Babies are prone to several types of yeast infections, usually caused by Candida albicans. Babies often develop thrush, an infection of the mucus membranes in the mouth, which can spread to your nipples if you're breast-feeding. Both breast and bottle fed babies can get a yeast diaper rash. Baby girls might also develop a vaginal yeast infection. The warm, wet, dark environments in all three areas -- the mouth, diaper region and vagina -- favor yeast growth. Simple measures help treat or prevent a yeast infection. In some cases, prescription medications might be necessary.
Candida is a common fungal problem that can grow out of control in infants because of their immature immune systems. Thrush, the name for a yeast infection inside the mouth, can affect your baby's ability to eat by causing pain during nursing. Sometimes, thrush will resolve on its own within a few weeks, but if your baby won't eat, your doctor will need to prescribe treatment immediately. Thrush looks like little pieces of cottage cheese clinging to the inside of your baby's mouth. If you try to remove them, they might bleed. An anti-fungal medication you paint onto the inside of your baby's mouth can clear the infection. If your baby is eating solid foods, yogurt containing live cultures of bacteria can help prevent yeast infections.
Treating Nipples When Breast-feeding
A nursing mom can develop a yeast infection on her nipples if her baby has thrush. This creates a self-perpetuating problem of re-infection. Treating both your baby's mouth and your nipples is essential to prevent recurrence. If you take antibiotics while breast-feeding, both you and your baby have an increased risk of developing a yeast infection. Antibiotics kill off the "good" bacteria and allow opportunistic infections like yeast to proliferate. Adding probiotics such as acidophilus when you take antibiotics mights help prevent yeast infection. An anti-fungal ointment or cream applied to the nipples helps prevent a vicious cycle of yeast infection between you and your baby. Exposing your nipples to air and keeping them dry also can help defeat a yeast infection.
Treating Diaper Rash
A yeast diaper rash often looks different than regular diaper rash and won't respond to regular over-the-counter diaper ointments.The diaper area might turn a raised, bright, beefy red with well-defined borders; small red pimples might develop. The area also might feel scaly. Small rash patches could appear a short distance away from the affected area. The rash might be more prevalent in the skin creases, which stay moister longer. Keeping your baby's diaper off and exposing the rash to air can help clear it up. Leave the diaper slightly loose so air can circulate under it. Applying prescription anti-fungal ointments also help heal the area. If your baby takes antibiotics, he has an increased chance of developing a yeast diaper rash.
Treating Vaginal Infections
Yeast growth in the diaper area can spread to the vagina in baby girls. A vaginal infection can cause pain, burning, itching and a thick white discharge. Vaginal yeast infection can also cause painful urination. Keeping the diaper area clean and dry, changing diapers frequently, watching for signs of vaginal yeast infection and using an anti-fungal cream when necessary can help prevent and treat yeast infections.
Tips & Warnings
- Make sure you change your child's diaper when you know he is wet, or at least every 2 hours. This will prevent infection.
- Photo Credit Visage/Stockbyte/Getty Images
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