Skin care

What Causes Yeast Infection in Babies?


In most cases, baby yeast infection occurs in the mouth, which is known as oral thrush or in the baby’s diapered area.  Yeast infection of the baby’s diapered area can be distinguished from a nappy rash in that it resists any nappy rash treatment that you may apply. Oral thrush can be mistaken for formula or milk.

Causes of baby yeast infection

The risk of a baby developing yeast infections can be increased by certain factors:

  1. Ideal environment: Yeast grows in a wet and warm environment. The diapered area provides an ideal environment for the growth of yeast.  This is because, in addition to the warmth and moisture, the diapered area provides additional elements, such as feces and urine, which increase the suitability of the environment for the growth of yeast.
  2. Antibiotics: The ingesting of antibiotics increases the risk of the baby getting yeast infection. This is because antibiotics are usually not selective of the bacteria that they will destroy, thereby destroying the good bacteria along with the bad bacteria. The good bacteria normally work at stabilizing and keeping fungus under control. This is in addition to the baby’s already present vulnerability due to its immature immune system that makes vulnerable to an overgrowth of fungus.
  3. Nipple hygiene: The state of the nipple can cause the baby to have infections of the mouth (oral thrush) or of the diapered area. This mostly happens when the mother takes antibiotics and develops yeast infection on the nipples, which in turn are passed on to the baby’s mouth. Just as in the case of the diapered area, if the nipples are left to stay wet, yeast infection occurs. If the baby develops oral thrush, he may swallow the fungus which he secretes in feces. The feces may then cause an infection in the diapered area if it stays against the skin for some time in a diaper. However, synthetic nipples are the more common culprits as they can harbor yeast if not washed properly in hot water and soap.

Treatment of baby yeast infection

There are 3 steps to baby yeast infection treatment:

Yeast infection can be mistaken for a diaper rash as their symptoms are similar. However, you will notice that yeast infections appear to be severe and the discomfort caused is extreme, while a diaper rash appears suddenly and disappears almost as fast. Yeast infection is known to develop gradually with the presentation of white spots on the baby’s bottom.

Apply anti-fungal cream. There are topical anti-fungal creams that can be used to treat diaper area infections for babies’ and toddlers. The active ingredients contained in these medications are able to kill the offending bacteria as well as sooth the infant or toddler’s skin.

The diaper should be kept dry. An effective way for curing and preventing yeast infections in the future is keeping the baby’s diaper area dry all the time. A soiled diaper should be removed immediately to prevent the risk of diaper rash or eventually yeast infection. Powder can be used to maintain dryness if applied after every diaper change.

Vinegar bath. This is a natural treatment method for a toddler yeast infection. Half a cup of vinegar added into a tub filled with warm water is able to treat diaper yeast infection effectively. Vinegar is a cleaner that is relatively safe and natural, and is able to kill different types of bacteria, mold and fungus. This is an effective baby yeast infection remedy.

A baby’s or toddler’s yeast infection that does not improve after a few days should be taken to a doctor for assessment as you will require prescription medication for severe infections. In baby yeast infection, oral thrush looks like patches that are in the mouth as well as on the tongue,  that look like milk curds or cottage cheese that should not be wiped as this may cause redness and getting sore.

For oral thrush, research has shown that omega-3 has properties, which can reduce the inflammation that comes with the infections of yeast. The supplements, Omega-3 are made in fluid form & can be administered to the baby by adding to his flask or given with the use of an oral dispenser. The mother who is breastfeeding may prevent yeast infections as well by taking omega-3 as supplements.

Both baby boys and girls are susceptible to getting yeast infections. This is because both have the warm and moist conditions in the diapers that the yeast thrives in. For treatment, the pediatrician prescribes a baby yeast infection ointment which is actually an anti-fungal cream that is to be applied when changing the diaper. This effectively kills the yeast that causes the rash. Vaginal yeast infection is thought to only occur in sexually active adult women. However, they occasionally afflict babies. A baby vaginal yeast infection will most likely occur after taking antibiotics that kill the good bacteria that protect against the overgrowth of yeast. It can also occur after a fungal diaper rash spreads to the vagina.

As mentioned earlier, oral thrush can also spread to the diaper area, which includes the vaginal area, causing vaginal yeast infection. Symptoms of this vaginal yeast infection usually present in the form of a cottage cheese-like thick discharge from the vagina or on the area around the vulva. The baby may show signs of irritation by rubbing or scratching the area due to the intense burning and itching that is common with these infections. After examining the site of infection and the pediatrician ascertains that the infection is yeast, he can prescribe topical or oral anti-fungal treatment. This infection can be prevented by changing the diaper frequently and occasionally allowing her to stay without a diaper, and wiping her front to back when changing her diaper to prevent infecting her vaginal area from the anus. Finally, prevention can be done by avoiding giving the baby too many antibiotics, which at times may not be necessary. In the case of baby yeast infection on face, topical treatments may not be effective, but an oral anti-fungal medication is prescribed to treat the infection.



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