Yeast Infection in Children – Causes and Treatment

Yeast infections are caused by various species of a fungus called candida. These germs live normally in the body, but sometimes their growth gets out of control for various reasons and cause symptoms of infection, including thrush and diaper rash in children. Yeast infection in children are usually caused by antibiotic overuse, as a result of a vaginal yeast infection in the mother at delivery, and are quite common in the warm and moist folds of the skin in babies and children.

Infant Yeast Infection

Babies usually get symptoms of thrush when their mother has an untreated yeast infection at the time of delivery. Yeast lives normally in the vagina, so it’s possible for a child to develop thrush even if the mother doesn’t have a yeast infection. Fortunately, thrush is very easily treated. Thrush affects both the mouth and throat, and can sometimes affect the esophagus as well. It appears as a creamy white patch on the tongue and mucous membranes. Thrush can also happen in anyone with an impaired immune system that comes into contact with yeast, but it is more often found in newborn babies. A yeast infection can also develop as diaper rash, which would be treated similarly to thrush.

Breastfeeding Children with Oral Thrush

Mothers often ask if they can get a yeast infection through breast feeding if their baby has a yeast infection in their mouth. The answer is yes, nursing mothers are definitely at risk of developing a yeast infection if their baby has oral thrush. The infection will be limited to their breast, but if not prevented or treated can continually pass back and forth between baby and mother. A yeast infection on the breast leads to mastitis (inflammation of the breast or nipple). It’s treated the same way the infection is treated in their baby, with topical or oral antibiotic/antifungals and probiotics.

Treating Infant Yeast Infections

For newborn babies that are primarily breast fed, feeding them yogurt with probiotics is generally out of the question. For yeast diaper rash, a topical antifungal/antibiotic cream would be the best treatment. You can also use oral nystatin or other antibiotic/antifungal for treatment. Resistance is rare, so infant yeast infections are generally very well responsive to this type of medication. Check with your primary caregiver about options.

For diaper rash, the diaper should be changed more frequently than usual since yeast grows in moist, warm areas. Barrier creams like Desitin are helpful in treating diaper yeast infection as well.

See Desitin Products on Amazon.

Toddler Yeast Infection and Child Care

It is quite possible children can get yeast infections in child care. Since all people harbor candida germs in their bodies, there would be no way to avoid coming in contact with it. There would be no need to remove your child from daycare if they get a yeast diaper rash or thrush from daycare. Just be sure the providers practice good hygiene and use the ointments you provide for yeast infection treatment.

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