Thrush Candidiasis and Yeast Infections

  • Candidiasis, sometimes called moniliasis or a "yeast infection," is an infection caused by yeast on the skin and/or mucous membranes.

    • Although yeast is normally a harmless inhabitant of the digestive system and vaginal area, it may cause an infection when the skin is damaged, when conditions are warm and humid or when your child has a depressed immune system.
    • Antibiotics can also cause yeast to grow, because the normal bacteria in tissues are killed, letting the yeast grow unhampered.
    • When candidiasis occurs in the mouth, it is called thrush.

    Candidiasis, sometimes called moniliasis or a "yeast Infection," is an infection in the vaginal area caused by yeast on the skin or mucous membranes.
    Boston Children's Hospital 
    333 Longwood Avenue
    Across from the Main Hospital
    Boston MA 02115

    Candidiasis, called thrush when it occurs in the mouth, can be treated through our Dentistry Program.
    Boston Children's Hospital 
    300 Longwood Avenue
    Boston MA 02115
  • What causes thrush?

    Thrush is caused by a fungus called Candida albicans. It occurs mostly in the neonate and infant. The following are some of the factors that may increase the chance of the infant developing thrush:

    • antibiotics - Antibiotics can cause yeast to grow, because the normal bacteria in tissues are killed off, letting the yeast grow unhampered.
    • steroids - Steroids may decrease your child's immune system and decrease the ability to fight normal infections.
    • poor immune system - If your infant has a poor immune system and an inability to fight infection from another chronic disease, she is at an increased risk for developing thrush.

    What are the symptoms of candidiasis?

    The symptoms of candidiasis may resemble other skin conditions and may vary depending on the location of the infection. Each child may experience them differently, so always consult your child's physician for a diagnosis.

    Some of the most common symptoms include:

    • Skin folds or navel        
      • rash
      • patches that ooze clear fluid
      • pimples
      • itching and burning
    • Vagina                      
      • white or yellow discharge fro the vagina
      • itching and burning
      • redness in the external area of the vagina
    • Penis             
      • redness on the underside of the penis
      • scaling on the underside of the penis
      • painful rash on the underside of the penis
    • Mouth (thrush)                  
      • white patches on the tongue and inside of the cheeks
      • pain
    • Corners of the mouth (perlèche)            
      • cracks and/or tiny cuts at the corners of the mouth
    • Nail beds                  
      • swelling
      • pain
      • white or yellow nail that separates from the nail bed
  • How is candidiasis diagnosed?

    In addition to a medical history and physical examination, your child's physician may scrape off a skin sample to confirm the diagnosis with a microscope or a culture.

  • What treatments are available for candidiasis?

    Candidiasis is highly treatable. Possibilities include:

    • Yeast infections in the vagina or anus can be treated with medicated suppositories.
    • Thrush may be treated with a medicated mouthwash or lozenges that dissolve in the mouth.
    • Severe infection or infections in an immuno-compromised child may be treated with oral anti-yeast medications.

    Tips for caring for an infant with thrush

    Some things to keep in mind:

    • A breastfeeding mother may also need to be treated if she has a fungal infection on her breasts. This will help decrease the chance of re-infecting the infant.
    • Keep your child's diaper area clean and dry. Let your child's bottom be exposed to air for approximately 15 minutes, several times throughout the day.
    • A simple yet often effective treatment is with a purple medication called gentian violet, which is painted inside the baby's mouth.
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