Thrush and Other Yeast Infections in Children

  • Medical Author:
    David Perlstein, MD, MBA, FAAP

    Dr. Perlstein received his Medical Degree from the University of Cincinnati and then completed his internship and residency in pediatrics at The New York Hospital, Cornell medical Center in New York City. After serving an additional year as Chief Pediatric Resident, he worked as a private practitioner and then was appointed Director of Ambulatory Pediatrics at St. Barnabas Hospital in the Bronx.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

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How do children (and adults) acquire thrush?

Outbreaks of thrush in child-care settings may be the result of an increased use of antibiotics and growth of the yeast normally present in the mouth, rather than newly acquired Candida infections. In children (and adults) taking antibiotics or steroids (such as cortisone-related asthma medications), the balance of the normal microbes in the mouth can be disturbed. This may cause an overgrowth of Candida, which in turn results in oral thrush.

How does yeast affect diaper rash?

Candida may infect an infant's diaper area and worsen a diaper rash. This is because yeast can grow very readily on irritated, moist skin. The infected skin is usually fiery red with areas that may have a raised red border and is usually intensely itchy (pruritic).

Can thumb sucking cause problems with yeast?

Children who suck their thumbs or other fingers may occasionally develop Candida around their fingernails. This causes redness at the edges of the nails.

Can a nursing mother acquire yeast infections from her infant?

Nursing mothers are at risk for developing Candida infections on their breasts (this is called mastitis) and can be treated with the same medication that is used for infants.

What is the treatment for thrush and other yeast infections?

Oral thrush and yeast infections, such as Candida diaper rash, usually are treated with antifungal medicines; these include nystatin (Mycostatin), clotrimazole (Lotrimin), or miconazole (Monistat) either by mouth or in a topical cream. Luckily most Candida are very sensitive to nystatin, and resistance is rare. There are many topical antifungals available as over-the-counter brands. Oral thrush requires an oral medication that is available by prescription only.

For children with diaper rash, diapers should be changed frequently and the child's skin gently cleansed with water and a mild soap, rinsed, and patted dry. Barrier creams or ointments, such as Desitin or A&D, are helpful. While cornstarch may be recommended for mild diaper rash, it should not be used for children with significantly inflamed skin. High-absorbency disposable diapers may help keep the skin dry. A baby's bottom is very sensitive, so staying dry is very important. Plastic pants that do not allow air to circulate over the diaper area should be avoided, although the diapering system should be able to hold urine or liquid feces.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/6/2015

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