Babies can be susceptible to yeast infections particularly in the mouth which is known as oral thrush and around the nappy area causing nappy rash. The symptoms of these two common yeast infections in babies are:
1) Oral thrush (or oral Candidasis)
Oral thrush is a yeast infection of the mouth, palate and tongue areas. Symptoms include thick, white patches on top of a red base. You can confuse these patches for milk curds but they cannot be removed like milk. Oral Thrush can be painful and makes it difficult for baby to suck. In addition to the distinctive lesions, infants can become irritable and may have trouble feeding.
Oral thrush occurs quite commonly in babies. However it will often go away by itself without treatment. It usually gets better on its own within 2 weeks. Oral thrush in babies may be transferred during breast-feeding. The yeast passes to and from the breast and the infant's mouth repeatedly, so it is advisable that, if required, that both mum and baby are treated with prescribed medications or natural remedies. Make sure that everything you use for baby is safe.
2) Nappy Rash
Nappy rash is often but not always caused by a yeast infection. The symptoms include a moist painful red rash in the nappy area including the genitals of boys and girls and the area around their back passage and the surrounding skin. It may also extend over their buttocks, groin area and upper thighs and infants become irritable. Thrush originates as small red spots which increase in number and then form into a solid red blotch. Sometimes there are little white spots associated with nappy rash caused by yeast, especially on the mucous membranes.
Nappy rash is extremely common - a lot of babies have this at one time or another. It is certainly not a sign of carelessness on the caregiver's part, but much can be done to reduce or prevent it. Often nappy rashes clear up quickly on their own or with home treatments. However anti-fungal creams or natural antifungal remedies are required to treat nappy rash if it is caused by a yeast such as Candida albicans. If home treatment does not cure the rash within a few days, consult a doctor or a mid wife.
The main cause of nappy rash is wetness from contact with wee and poo in a nappy. When the skin barrier is damaged or irritated the yeast which usually reside on baby's skin can overgrow and infection is established. Nappy rash can be caused by other factors. Baby may develop allergies to skin products such as a certain brands of nappies or nappy wipes.
Some tips which help to prevent nappy rash and reduce the chance of baby developing a yeast infection are
* Keep baby's bottom clean and dry with frequent nappy changes
* Try different types of nappies to see which ones seem to suit baby best
* Avoid baby wipes where possible -use a warm moist cloth
* Leave baby nappy free for a play after every nappy change
* Expose the bottom to sun for a short period each day
* Apply a protective cream, such as zinc and castor oil cream after each nappy change. (If your baby's rash is caused by thrush, don't use a barrier cream or ointment, as this can make the rash worse)
* Avoid soaps on the baby's skin, especially perfumed soaps. Water is best for baby's skin.
* It is recommended to avoid talcum powder as it does not give protection against nappy rash and may even lead to friction which irritates your baby's skin.
* Be careful with laundering reusable nappies - remove soil, wash in hot water, use baby approved detergents and dry the sun
* Fasten nappies loose enough so that there's room for air to circulate round baby's bottom.
How did my baby get a yeast infection?
The first question a lot of mum's ask is "How did my baby get a yeast infection?" Thrush is most commonly caused by Candida albicans which is a yeast normally resident in the vagina of 80-90 % of women. A large number of women will have vaginal thrush at least once during their lives and many women will often experience reoccurences of vaginal thrush regularly. Because of its natural habitat, most babies are exposed to Candida albicans and other normal bacterial flora which reside in the vagina during birth.
Most babies are colonised by yeast and other normal flora shortly after birth. The other normal flora on the body keeps the yeast in check by competing for space and nutrients. In that way the yeast is prevented from overgrowing and establishing the yeast infection. It is not necessary for the mother to have a current yeast infection for transfer of yeast from mother to baby to happen. A yeast infection is more likely to develop in babies taking antibiotics. That's because the antibiotics kill the good bacteria that normally keep yeast in check.
In summary yeast infection, commonly known as thrush, is relatively common in babies. Babies are colonised from their mums during the birth process and the yeast infection can be transferred from mum to baby to mum, so treatment of both babe and mum may be required. The two most common forms of yeast infection in babies are oral thrush and nappy rash. Thankfully neither of these infections are serious but baby will become irritable due to the discomfort they experience. Many mothers would like to treat their baby with nutural cures. If you are one of these mothers you may need to do a little research to establish what would be best for your baby.