Cause A yeast infection appears in the mouth (thrush) or as diaper rash in infants and is caused by candida, a yeastlike fungus. The majority of infections are caused by one species, Candida albicans. Oral thrush occurs in 2 to 5 percent of normal new-borns and a higher percentage of low-birthweight babies. Diaper dermatitis is the most common infection caused by candida. Older children who have been treated with oral antibiotics or who have a weakened immune system are also prone to yeast infections.
Symptoms Oral thrush appears as white cheeselike areas in the mouth that may bleed if the white material is scraped off. The baby may have a sore mouth and be fussy with feedings. A diaper rash that lasts longer than three days despite frequent diaper changes and use of irritation-preventing diaper ointments may be due to candida infection, especially if there are small, round, red areas called "satellite lesions" around the borders of the red rash in the diaper area. Thrush and candida diaper rash often occur together in an infant.
How It Spreads Some babies are infected by coming in contact with the yeast from the mother's vagina during delivery. Babies can get thrush from close contact with people who carry the yeast on their hands.
Incubation Period For newborns infected at birth, thrush may develop in the first 7 to 10 days after birth.
How Long Symptoms Last With treatment, it generally takes 7 to 14 days for the infection to clear up completely.
When to Call Your Child's Doctor Call your child's doctor if your baby has patches of cheesy white material on the inner cheeks and tongue (that doesn't wipe off easily like milk) or a diaper rash with the characteristics described earlier.
How the Diagnosis Is Made The diagnosis is made by examining the baby's mouth or diaper area.
Treatment For oral thrush, treatment of mild cases may not be necessary. The most commonly prescribed medication is nys-tatin, a topical fungicide. For diaper rash, a prescription topical antifungal ointment may be needed to clear up the rash.
Prevention If bottle-feeding, make sure nipples are sterile. Wash your hands before feeding your infant.
Complications Persistent thrush can be a sign of abnormalities in the body's immune system. Candida infections in people with weakened immune systems can range from minor to life-threatening sepsis (infection of the blood).
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