If you suspect a vaginal yeast infection in a child, the best course of action is to have the youngster examined by a doctor. He or she can make a proper diagnosis and advise you on how to treat this condition.
Yeast Infection Basics
Vaginal yeast infections are caused by an overgrowth of Candida. 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.
A yeast infection occurs when the body is not able to keep the levels of yeast in check, and too much yeast is present.
Causes of Yeast Infections
UptoDate, an evidenced-based clinical decision tool, suggests that yeast thrives in a wet environment, which means that babies and young children who are in diapers or using disposable training pants should be changed often. It is also important to dry your child thoroughly after bathing and to change your out of their wet bathing suits promptly after swimming.
Yeast infections can also occur during or after an illness when the child's immune system has been weakened. Also, if antibiotics have been prescribed for another medical concern, an overgrowth of yeast may occur.
Symptoms of a Yeast Infection
A vaginal yeast infection will produce some or all of the following symptoms:
- Redness and Irritation
- Painful Urination
- A 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.
Vaginal Yeast Infection in Child: Treating the Condition
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.
Sitting in a warm bath may help to relieve some symptoms of the 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.
Yeast Infections and Diet
The University of Maryland Medical Center highlights several studies in adults where reducing certain kinds of foods prevented additional yeast infections. The following food choices were linked to an overgrowth of Candida and should be avoided:
- Foods Containing Refined (White) Flour
- Dairy products
It has also been suggested that using natural antifungals such as probiotics help maintain the body's balance of candida. Lactobacillus acidophilus helps to restore the body's normal balance of bacteria in the gut and mucous membranes. Always consult with your child's health care provider before starting your child on any alternative therapies.
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 tightfitting or synthetic fiber clothes as this may trap heat and moisture.
Children who have yeast infection may be miserable and uncomfortable. Talk to your health care provider to know all treatment options or if you suspect you are dealing with recurring vaginal yeast infections in a child. These may be a sign of a more serious medical condition. There are many prescribed and alternative options to help restore your child's health.