Yeast infection or candidiasis is the excess growth of yeast, also known as candida fungus, on the skin or in the mouth. Yeast is naturally found in the microbiome of the mouth, genital area, intestines, and skin. Toddler yeast infection occurs when the fungus has proper growth conditions, such as adequate moisture, heat, and darkness. It is usually for this reason that the diaper area is more prone to yeast infections in toddlers.
Read this post to know more about the causes, signs, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of yeast infection in toddlers.
Causes Of Yeast Infection In Toddlers
A toddler can get candida or yeast infection due to the following conditions and factors (1).
- Antibiotic use
- Inadequate changing of diapers leaving the area damp
- Corticosteroid use
- Autoimmune conditions
- Soaps, shower gel, or other skincare products
- Tight diapers or undergarments
- Immunosuppressant medications
- Weak immune system due to conditions such as AIDS
Yeast infection in toddlers usually happens in the diaper area, but it can affect the skin on any part of the body.
Signs And Symptoms Of Yeast Infection In Toddlers
The following signs are symptoms are commonly seen in pediatric yeast infection (2).
- Skin itchiness
- Constant irritation in the affected area
- Pain while urination
- Swelling of the vagina
- Skin rashes and white spots
- Vaginal discharge with odor
- Penile discharge with odor
- Oral yeast infection or oral thrush causes a thick white coating on the tongue. It looks like milk or curd. But on trying to remove it, it comes out with difficulty leaving a bleeding surface.
The signs and symptoms may vary in each child, depending on the severity of the infection and the affected area. In the case of diaper area, it becomes red, swollen, and tender to touch. The skin may peel off. In the case of oral thrush/candida infection, the toddler cannot eat or drink because of the pain in the mouth. You may seek expert advice to diagnose and treat the infection before it spreads to larger areas of the body.
Complications Of Yeast Infection
Yeast infections are not dangerous for most toddlers. However, it can be irritating in most cases. Toddlers may feel uncomfortable due to the constant itchiness and pain in the affected area.
In rare cases, especially in toddlers with weakened immune systems, the yeast infection may spread to the bloodstream and cause candidemia. Yeast infection may also spread to organs and tissues to cause invasive candidiasis. Toddlers with candidemia and invasive candidiasis require long-term intravenous medications to cure the condition.
Prevention Of Yeast Infection In Toddlers
The following tips could help to prevent yeast infection in toddlers (3).
- Sterilize and replace pacifiers on time since yeast could be present on older pacifiers.
- Use antibiotics and corticosteroids only when necessary and as per the doctor’s prescription. and not for prolonged use.
- Replace and sterilize bottle nipples to minimize the risk of oral yeast infection.
- Change diapers frequently to keep the diaper area clean and dry.
- Always wash and air-dry the diaper area before putting on a fresh diaper.
- Use mild soaps and other skincare products for bathing the baby.
- Dress the baby in loose, single-layered clothing in hot or humid weather.
Yeast infection in the diaper area often resolves once the child stops using diapers. Long-lasting oral thrush could be due to the use of old pacifiers or bottle nipples bottles.
Recurrent yeast infections may indicate weak immune systems or other serious conditions. Seeking timely medical care could help in early diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of complications.
Diagnosis Of Yeast Infection In Toddlers
Doctors can diagnose yeast infection from signs and physical examination. They may ask about the onset of symptoms, such as when the itching or discharge started, and the toddler’s diaper-changing routine. The doctor may also ask about the history of antibiotic use or the use of other medications.
During the physical examination, swabs from affected areas are collected for evaluation under a microscope. Vaginal or penile discharges are also analyzed to rule out other infections.
Is It A Diaper Rash Or A Yeast Infection?
Diaper rash or diaper dermatitis is skin irritation due to wet or soiled diapers and is not fungal. However, a diaper rash could be mistaken for yeast infection. Also, the development of yeast infection can worsen existing diaper rash.
Diaper rash could be associated with a history of severe diarrhea or changes in dietary habits, such as the introduction of solid foods. The following signs may help differentiate yeast infection from diaper rash in toddlers.
- Yeast infection shows no improvement with diaper rash cream.
- In yeast infection, skin irritation is seen in the thigh creases or folds, whereas diaper rash can be seen anywhere the skin touches the diaper
- Red small bumps are seen in the yeast infection
Babies with diaper rash may show improvement with other management techniques, such as petroleum jelly, while these techniques do not help in yeast infection.
Treatment For Yeast Infection In Toddlers
The treatment of yeast infection in toddlers depends on its severity and the extent of infection. The following are the various treatment options that could be considered (4).
- Antifungal creams or powders are prescribed for application on the affected area. You may have to keep the baby diaper-free for some time after the application.
- Oral thrush is usually observed for two weeks before initiating antifungal treatments since it may resolve by itself in a few weeks.
- Oral antifungal medicines are prescribed for uncomplicated candidiasis in toddlers.
Complicated cases of candidiasis, such as invasive candidiasis, may require intravenous antifungal medications. Non-prescription antifungals are not safe and effective for yeast infection. Mild yeast infection in the diaper area may not require any medication and may improve by keeping the baby diaper-free for many hours a day.
Yeast infection is a common skin infection in toddlers and usually resolves within two weeks of treatment. However, the infection may recur if the environmental factors are favorable. Talk to your child’s pediatrician for appropriate care and precautions to minimize the risk of yeast infection in toddlers.
2. Candidiasis in Children;; Nationwide Children’s Hospital
3. Thrush and Other Candida Infections;; Healthychildren; The American Academy Of Pediatrics
4. Yeast Infection (Candidiasis); Cincinnati Children’s Hospital