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Yeast Infection In Children: Signs, Remedies, And Treatment

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Yeast infection, also called candidiasis or moniliasis, is a fungal infection caused by yeast. Yeast infection affects the skin and mucous membranes and is usually treated with topical medications, such as antifungal ointments or creams. However, severe infection may require oral or intravenous antifungal medications.

Read this post to know more about the causes, signs, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of yeast infection in children.

Causes Of Yeast Infection In Children

Yeasts are normal inhabitants of the digestive system, skin, and genital area. These are generally harmless organisms, but the following conditions may cause them to become infective (1).

  • Skin damages
  • Poor hygiene
  • Warm and humid weather
  • Immunocompromisation due to certain diseases, such as cancer or HIV
  • Chronic illnesses, such as diabetes, since high blood sugar levels may promote yeast growth
  • Hormonal changes
  • Antibiotic usage
  • Corticosteroid use

Antibiotics and corticosteroids may hamper the growth of normal flora of the body, resulting in the overgrowth of yeast. Children with immunodeficiency due to diseases such as AIDS may experience severe yeast infections.

Signs And Symptoms Of Yeast Infection In Children

The symptoms of a yeast infection may vary depending on the affected area (2).

  1. Skin folds or navel area: Rashes and pimples are seen. Itching or burning sensation is felt in the skin folds. Clear fluid may ooze from the rashes.
  1. Vaginal area: Itching and burning sensation of the vaginal area is a common symptom. Redness and yellow or white vaginal discharge could also occur during a vaginal yeast infection.
  1. Penis: Severe pain and scaling is usually seen during yeast infection of the penis. Redness may also be noticeable.
  1. Mouth (oral) thrush: White patches on the tongue, inside the cheeks, and floor of the mouth are common during oral thrush. Some children may experience pain.
  1. Corners of the mouth: This type of yeast infection is called perleche. Cracks and tiny cuts are seen at the corners of the mouth.
  1. Nail beds: Yeast infection of the nail beds is called paronychia. White or yellow discoloration of the nail, which appears to separate from the nail bed, is a common sign of paronychia. Children may also have pain, swelling, and pus draining from the nail beds.

These symptoms and signs may also occur in other skin conditions. Thus, you should consult a pediatrician for an exact diagnosis.

Prevention Of Yeast Infection In Children

The following measures could help prevent yeast infection in children (3).

  • Keep the skin clean and dry.
  • Avoid antibacterial soaps, perfumed soaps, and shower gels to wash the genital area.
  • Use clean and breathable undergarments.
  • Use prescribed antibiotics.
  • Follow preventive measures if the child has a weak immune system.

Improper hygiene and wetness in the genital area and skin folds could increase the growth of yeast. Certain skincare products, such as strong soaps, may destroy the skin’s natural flora. You may give your child mild soaps and encourage them to keep the body clean and dry.

When To See A Doctor?

You may visit a healthcare provider if your child has any of the following signs and symptoms.

  • Yeast infection affects a large area of the body
  • Existing symptoms worsen
  • Fever
  • Signs of a severe skin infection, such as swelling, redness, and warmness
  • Development of new symptoms

Medical history and physical examination can help identify yeast infection in children. Pediatricians may also scrape and collect a sample of the skin lesion for microscopic examination or culture to confirm the diagnosis.

Treatment For Yeast Infection In Children

The treatment may vary according to the affected area, the severity of the infection, and the child’s health status. Treatment options may include the following (1).

  1. Medicated ointments, creams, or gels are prescribed to treat skin infection.
  1. Vaginal or anal infections may require medicated suppositories.
  1. Medicated mouthwashes and lozenges are used for oral thrush.
  1. Severe infection and infection in immunodeficient children may require oral anti-yeast medicines (antifungal medicines).
  1. Intravenous antifungals may be prescribed if other parts of the body are involved.

Possible Complications Of Yeast Infection In Children

Although yeast infection may not cause any complications in most children, it may result in life-threatening conditions in some rare cases. Invasive infection and a weak immune system are major reasons for complications.

The possible complications of an untreated yeast infection may include:

  • Chronic fatigue
  • Oral thrush
  • Abdominal discomfort
  • Secondary bacterial skin infection due to repeated scratching
  • Candidemia, a bloodstream yeast infection
  • Invasive candidiasis, the spread of yeast infection to other parts of the body, such as the brain,  eyes, bones, and heart
  • Candidemia, a bloodstream yeast infection

Yeast infections are not dangerous in most children. However, if your child has severe infection or immunodeficiency, it can be life-threatening. Seek medical care if your child has persistent and worsening symptoms of yeast infections. Timely diagnosis and treatment can prevent complications and make the child feel better.

References:

1. Yeast infection (candidiasis); Cincinnati Children’s Hospital
2. Candidiasis (Yeast Infection) In Children; Children’s Hospital Of Philadelphia
3. Candidiasis In Children; Nationwide Children’s Hospital

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