Vaginal Yeast Infections in Children

Contributor: Julie Kirk
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If you suspect your child has a vaginal yeast infection, the best course of action is to have a doctor examine her. The doctor will confirm the diagnosis of a yeast infection in a little girl and advise you on how to treat this condition.

Yeast Infection in Kids Basics

Vaginal yeast infections are caused by an overgrowth of the Candida fungus. This yeast is naturally present on the body and can be found on the skin, in the mouth, and in the gastrointestinal tract. Most of the time, it is not a health concern because the body also produces bacteria designed to keep Candida levels low. When there is an imbalance of bacteria and an overgrowth of yeast, a yeast infection will occur. Can little girls get yeast infections? Yes, and a yeast infection in children can be caused by several things. While yeast infections can affect females of all ages, however, they are most commonly found in those who have their menstrual cycles.

Causes of Yeast Infections in Babies and Toddlers

The most common causes of yeast infections in babies and toddlers include:

Diapers

In a baby or toddler, vaginal yeast infections are most commonly caused by diapers . The Candida fungus grows best in a warm, moist environment such as a wet, soiled diaper. When that diaper has prolonged contact with your baby's skin, a yeast infection can develop and it can happen with either cloth or disposable diapers. Other causes of yeast infections include frequent bowel movements, diapers that are too tight and laundry soap used on the cloth diapers.

Antibiotics

Antibiotics can kill the 'good bacteria' along with the bad causing the yeast to overgrow. When this happens, babies or toddlers who are taking antibiotics are more likely to develop a yeast infection. If their mother is taking antibiotics while breastfeeding, this also increases the baby's chance of a yeast infection.

Causes of Yeast Infections in Young Girls

The most common causes of yeast infections in elementary to tweenage girls include:

  • Wearing underwear or clothing that is too tight that can trap heat and moisture.
  • Taking antibiotics that kill off the bacteria which causes the yeast to thrive and infection to occur.
  • If there is a weakening of the immune system from an illness or medications such as chemotherapy.
  • If she has been diagnosed with diabetes and her blood sugar is not well-controlled, she is more susceptible to yeast infections.
  • Hormonal changes with puberty can also increase the risk of yeast infections.
  • It is not unusual for a yeast infection to develop just before the start of their menstrual cycle.

Symptoms of a Yeast Infection

A vaginal yeast infection in children will produce some or all of the following symptoms:

  • Redness and irritation
  • Itching
  • Painful urination
  • Thick discharge that looks like cottage cheese

Even if only a few of these symptoms are present, the child could have a vaginal yeast infection. Level of discomfort is not an indication of the seriousness of the infection; it's possible to have a severe infection with only a bit of mild discomfort.

Yeast Infection vs. Diaper Rash

When it comes to vaginal yeast infections in toddlers, it's important to know the difference between diaper rash and the symptoms of yeast infection in child. A common diaper rash can sometimes be confused with a yeast infection. Diaper rash is the result of irritation and chafing and is a less serious condition. If the rash is bright red with small red dots at the edges and it's not responding to diaper cream, it is probably a yeast infection.

Mild benign diaper rash
Mild benign diaper rash

Vaginal Yeast Infection in Child: Treating the Condition

If you're wondering how to treat a yeast infection in a child, there are several options. If your child complains about any of the symptoms listed above or you notice redness or swelling in the vaginal area, make an appointment for your child to see a doctor. The doctor will examine your child and provide suggestions for treating the symptoms. Antifungal drugs are commonly used to treat candida. While the antibiotic nystatin is often prescribed for children with superficial infections such as oral thrush or a Candida-related diaper rash, your provider may prescribe an antifungal medication such as clotrimazole or miconazole to treat a vaginal yeast infection.

Over the Counter Treatment Options

Once a vaginal yeast infection has been confirmed, you may want to buy one of the creams available from a drugstore for treating it. Although it is safe to use these treatments according to instructions, it is always a good idea to talk to your provider before treating your child with any of these products. An over-the-counter antifungal cream, such as Lotrimin, is very effective in treating a yeast diaper rash in babies and toddlers as well. You simply apply to the affected area at every diaper change. If you do not notice any improvement, then you should call the doctor.

Home Treatments

Sitting in a warm bath may help relieve some symptoms of yeast infection and keep the child a bit more comfortable. Use mild soaps such as Dove and don't use bubble bath as this can further irritate this sensitive area. Keep baths less than 15 minutes and make sure to dry your child off carefully after giving a bath. Putting a cool, damp cloth over the irritated area may help, too. Scratching and rubbing to relieve itching will only irritate the skin further, and the child may actually break the skin if she rubs too hard. This may lead to a more serious infection.

Natural Remedies for Yeast Infections

The following are a few natural home remedies that may help relieve the symptoms of a yeast infection and help with the healing process:

  • Add a cup of apple cider vinegar to a toddler's bath water.
  • Mash a clove of garlic into a paste and spread it on the affected area.
  • Boil 1/2 cup of water and allow it to cool. Then add 5 drops of tea tree oil to the water and use it to clean the affected area.
  • Place a 1/2 cup of oatmeal in a cheesecloth and place in a toddler's bath water.

While these natural remedies are not scientific, there is little risk involved in trying them.

Yeast Infection Prevention

It's important to practice good hygiene to prevent yeast infections:

  • Ensure your child wears clean underwear, preferably cotton to help keep the genital area cool.
  • After using the toilet, make sure your child wipes from front to back to avoid spreading bacteria.
  • Avoid putting your child in tight-fitting or synthetic fiber clothes as this may trap heat and moisture.

Balanced Body

Can kids get yeast infections? Unfortunately, the answer to this question is yes, but there ways to treat this condition at any age. Children who have a yeast infection may experience much discomfort. Talk to your health care provider to learn about the treatment options available or if you suspect your child is dealing with recurring vaginal yeast infections. This may be a sign of a more serious medical condition. There are many prescribed and alternative treatment options available that will help restore your child's health.

Vaginal Yeast Infections in Children