Thrush and Other Yeast Infections in Children

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What are yeast infections?

Picture of thrush

What are commonly known as "yeast" infections are caused by various species of a yeast-like fungus called Candida, particularly the species Candida albicans. Yeast organisms are some of the germs (including bacteria) that are normally found on various parts of the body and that ordinarily cause no symptoms or signs.

Why do yeast sometimes cause symptoms and signs?

Certain conditions, such as antibiotic use, may upset the balance of microbes in the body (particularly between the bacteria and fungi) and allow an overgrowth of Candida. Yeast also can thrive in chronically moist folds of skin, such as in the groin.

Yeast infections may flare up and then heal in most people. However, in newborns or individuals with impaired immune systems, yeast can cause more serious or chronic infections.

How do babies get yeast infections?

Many infants acquire Candida infections from their mothers during the process of birth. Yeast exists naturally in the mother's vagina. When the child is delivered through the birth canal, the baby comes in direct contact with the yeast.

Many babies who escape this infection at birth soon acquire Candida from close contact with other family members.

What is oral thrush? What are oral thrush symptoms and signs?

Thrush is yeast infection of the mouth and throat. Thrush can also be associated with yeast infections of the esophagus. Thrush appears as creamy white curd-like patches on the tongue and inside of the mouth and back of the throat. As mentioned above, in individuals with impaired immune systems, yeast infections are more common. For example, in a non-infant population, thrush may be a sign of underlying HIV infection.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/6/2015

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Yeast Infections in Children - Symptoms Question: What were your child's symptoms associated with thrush or another yeast infection?
Yeast Infections in Children - Treatment Question: What kinds of treatment, including medication, were used for your child's thrush or other yeast infection?
Yeast Infections in Children - Causes Question: What was the suspected cause of your child's thrush or other yeast infection?
Yeast Infections in Children - Child Care Question: Did you keep your child at home (out of child care) when he or she had thrush or another yeast infection? Why or why not?

Is a Yeast Infection Contagious?

Most yeast infections are not contagious. They usually occur when conditions on the skin, mouth (mucosal surface), vagina and penis/foreskin develop extra moisture and warmth, often associated with a suppressed immune system. It is in these situations where Candida can ideally grow and multiply.