Yeast infection is common among adults, but babies can get it too. Read on to find out causes, symptoms, plus how to cure yeast infection naturally in babies.
With babies, any health problems – specifically in the diaper area – can be scary for a new mom. No matter how gentle you are or how frequently you change your baby’s diaper, diaper rash always comes back.
Something that may have started as a red rash on baby’s bottom and refuses to go away with your best diaper rash cream application, may actually be a yeast infection.
My baby boy had a frequent yeast infection during first 2 months of his life. I remember, how hard it was to get rid of it!! Thankfully, I came across few home remedies for yeast infection that worked well for him. Of course, I consulted my pediatrician first before applying any of it.
Some of these home remedies for yeast infection worked very well us!! While there is no clear scientific evidence to support these home remedies, but research on some of them are encouraging.
What is a Yeast Infection?
A yeast infection is caused by fungus called Candida. Everyone has yeast on their body and is found on the skin, digestive systems (mouth and throat) and genital area. Normally, Candida do not cause any harm to the host but in some cases in outgrows causing rash, itching and other symptoms.
What causes a Yeast Infection in Babies?
A yeast infection is an opportunistic infection meaning that it does not cause any harm until there is an opportunity.
Yeast thrives on moist environment, so infection occurs on areas of the body that stays moist. The babies are more susceptible to get a yeast infection in their skin folds because it’s a favorable environment for yeast to thrive.
A yeast infection in babies can occur in following area,
- diaper area
Let’s look at what causes a yeast infection in babies,
Change in Microbial Flora of the body
A small community of microbes (bacteria and fungus) lives on and within our body most of the time. These microbes usually do not cause any harm to the body and are usually kept in check by the immune system.
But certain condition or weakened immune system can cause imbalance in microbial flora of the body causing excessive growth of the yeast. Excessive growth of yeast lead to sores and lesions in the mouth.
A yeast infection in mouth is called Thrush in babies. The babies are more susceptible to yeast infection in mouth because of their immature immune system.
Use of Antibiotics
The mothers or babies who have had a recent course of antibiotics are more susceptible to develop a yeast infection in mouth and genital area.
Taking antibiotics can result in an imbalance of microbial flora of the body. While killing bad bacteria to treat infection, it kills good bacteria that keeps excessive growth of the yeast in check. Resulting absence of good bacteria, allows yeast to manifest symptoms.
A yeast diaper rash and oral thrush in my baby was result of antibiotics given to him to treat transient tachypnea of the newborn soon after his birth.
It goes without saying most significant causes of yeast infection in babies are diapers. Diaper provides most favorable environment – moist, warm and dark-for yeast to thrive.
A yeast infection occurs when wet or soiled diaper is kept in contact with skin for too long. Regardless if you are using disposable diapers or cloth diapers, risk of developing yeast infection of equal.
Even when you are potty training your toddler, frequent accidents or changes can also lead to yeast infection.
Having frequent stools or diarrhea is also a risk factor for developing a yeast infection.
What are the symptoms of Yeast Infection in Babies?
Depending upon where the infection occurs, symptoms are different.
Yeast Infection in Mouth (Thrush)
It appears as a white or yellowish patches insides of the cheeks and on the tongue. To learn in detail about thrush in babies and to get a natural remedy click here.
Yeast Infection in Skin folds
It appears as a red rash or patches that ooze clear fluid. It may give you itching or burning sensation.
Yeast Diaper Rash
You may see some or all of the following symptoms if your baby has yeast diaper rash (1) .
- A bright red rash with slightly raised and distinct border.
- There may be small red dots around the edges.
- Usually do not respond to diaper rash cream.
- The skin may become scaly and flaky, once pimples burst.
- Rash patches may occur in the folds of legs, genitals and buttocks and may ooze clear fluid
How to Identify Yeast Diaper rash in Babies?
Yeast diaper rash requires different treatment than a diaper rash, so it is important to identify the difference.
|Diaper rash||Yeast Diaper rash|
|Looks like a red flatten rash||Red rash with red dots around the edges|
|Do not occur along with oral thrush||May occur after oral thrush|
|Responds to diaper rash cream within 2-3 days||Do not respond to diaper rash cream|
|Rash may occur on smoother surface of buttocks||Occurs in the folds of legs, genitals and buttocks|
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How to Treat Yeast Diaper Rash
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If your baby has a yeast infection, you may not need to see doctor right away. Yeast infection is easy to treat at home by taking a step to keeping your baby’s skin dry in diaper area and applying some home remedies to speed up the healing process.
Here’s what you need to do to keep your baby’s skin dry in diaper area:
1. Diaper free time: Offer lots of diaper free time to your baby when you see a yeast diaper rash. It is really helpful in eliminating moisture and drying out the infected area. Put a towel on the floor and take the diaper of your baby. Also, keep them any ointments or crème free. You can do these several times a day as long as possible.
2. Dry the skin before putting a diaper on: Gently pat dry towel or air dry your baby’s skin before putting a clean diaper on.
3. Apply a Petroleum jelly: Before putting a diaper on, apply petroleum jelly or any over the counter ointments that contains zinc oxide to create a barrier between skin and a diaper. The barrier ointment protects the skin from any friction.
4. Keep the diaper loose: Make sure diaper is not too tight on baby. Keeping a diaper loose ensures aeration around the area. You can go one size up in diaper until infection heals.
5. Change diaper frequently: Change your baby’s diaper as soon as it is wet or soiled.
6. Ditch the Wipes: Regular wipes may irritate your baby’s skin so use water wipes or wash cloths for cleaning your baby’s bottom. The water wipes are chemical free, made out of 99.9% water with a drop of fruit extract, which is soothing for baby. You may opt for cleaning your baby’s bottom with water and soft wash cloth.
7. Change Diapers for time being: If you are cloth diapering your baby, you may want to switch to breathable disposable brand until the rash clears up (2). Use these organic diapers to ensure that it is not contributing to the rashes of your baby’s skin.
Make sure to wash and air-dry cloth diaper before reusing on your baby because yeast can thrive on moist area of cloth diaper and last thing that you want to do is reinfect your baby.
8. Use gentle soap to wash cloth diapers: If you are cloth diapering your baby, make sure you are washing them with a gentle soap and rinsing them well. Any chemicals in residual soap or dryer sheet may irritate your baby’s skin and contribute to existing rash or create new rash.
9. Proper Hygiene practice: Make sure to wash your hand after every diaper change to reduce the chance of spreading the infection to other part of your baby’s body or to other people.
Also, give a bath to your baby every day to keep the skin clean until infection clears up.
What home remedy can you use for a yeast diaper rash?
Along with keeping a diaper area clean and dry, certain home remedies are very helpful in relieving the symptoms of a yeast infection and promoting faster recovery. Although, there are no scientific evidence to support them but some mama (me included) have used it successfully with great results.
Note: Always consult your doctor before applying any home remedies to treat the yeast infection.
1. Apple cider vinegar
Apple cider vinegar (ACV) is a scientifically proven anti fungal and anti bacterial agent. In-vitro research studies has shown its effectiveness in inhibiting the growth of Candida in a petri dish (3-4). Although, there is no scientific evidence of its effectiveness in treating yeast infection in human, but people have used ACV to relieve the symptoms.
Apple cider vinegar bath is effective remedy to treat yeast diaper rash in babies. Add one half cup of ACV into a warm bath water and soak baby’s bottom for 10 min. It will not only help sooth and moisturize the affected skin but acidity from the vinegar can eliminate any harmful microorganisms including yeast (5).
Alternatively, you can clean your baby’s bottom with cotton and diluted ACV.
2. Use Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is my go-to home remedies for many health ailments. The oil has many health benefits, including its anti fungal properties.
A research study published in 2016 has shown its effectiveness against Candida (6), confirming that it actually works against yeast infection.
To treat your baby’s yeast diaper rash, apply pure coconut oil directly to affected area. Be sure to buy a pure organic coconut oil like this one for treating yeast infection in your babies.
3. Colloidal Oatmeal Bath
Colloidal Oatmeal bath has been used for centuries to relieve itch and irritation from dry skin. It binds to your skin and forms a protective barrier. Avenanthramides present in oats are potent anti-inflammatory and helps hold in moisture (9). The anti-irritation and anti-inflammatory property of oatmeal provides relief from symptoms of yeast infection.
To make oatmeal bath for the baby, take a half a cup of colloidal oatmeal in cheesecloth. Tie it firmly and drop it into the bath water. Once bath water turns cloudy, soak your baby’s bottom for 5-10 min.
4. Probiotics for Baby
Probiotics contains different strains of live microorganisms, usually bacteria, that are considered good for your body because they help maintain a balance of bacterial in your digestive tract. These good bacteria help keep growth of yeast in check.
Probiotics are particularly helpful for infants as they are born with a sterile gastrointestinal tract. Also, giving probiotics to infant or mother -who had a recent course of antibiotics, – may help restore gut microbial flora.
How is Yeast infection treated in Babies?
Yeast infection in babies are usually treated with over-the-counter anti fungal ointments like Mycostatin (nystatin), Monistat (miconazole) and Lotrimin (clotrimazole), applying them directly to the affected area.
Other type of yeast infection such as those that develop in the mouth (thrush) will need to be treated with oral anti fungal medication like fluconazole.
Anti-fungal ointment should be applied directly to the affected area underneath the barrier ointment such as zinc oxide. It should be applied 3-4 times a day.
It usually takes two weeks to resolve the yeast infection after starting treatment. If the infection does not subside within a week, it’s important to contact your doctor. A 1% hydrocortisone cream may also be recommended for severe rashes (10).
How to Prevent Yeast infection in Babies
Preventing reoccurrence is key for yeast infections. Taking antibiotics when necessary and good hygiene practice is the key in preventing and treating yeast infection.
Here’re the tips to prevent reoccurrence of yeast infection in babies.
- Sterilizing pacifier and nipple: Pacifier and nipple can harbor old yeast infection. So once you treat yeast infection, make sure to sterilize it in boiling water to kill the yeast. Pacifier should be replaced after episode of yeast infection. Pacifiers and nipples are a risk factor for development of an oral yeast infection (thrush).
- Keep diaper area dry: Keeping your baby’s diaper area dry can prevent yeast diaper rash. During each diaper change, allow enough free time for skin to dry then put on a clean diaper.
- Frequent Diaper change: Change your baby’s diaper as soon as it is wet or soiled.
- Gently clean diaper area with water wipes or wash cloth at each diaper change. Washing your baby’s bottom with water at each diaper change also protects their skin from irritation.
- Put diaper loosely on your baby to allow aeration.
- If you are using cloth diaper, make sure to wash it with gentle soap and rinse thoroughly. Do not use dryer sheet or fabric softener.
- Wash your hand with soap and water after each diaper change to prevent infecting other part of the body or another person.
When to call the Doctor for a Yeast Infection
Call your pediatrician if
- Rash begins oozing or large blisters with pus
- Rash does not clear with one week of treatment
- Rash spread to other part of the body like abdomen, neck
- Rash accompanied with fever
If your baby continues to get frequent yeast infection, consult your pediatrician because those infection needs to be treated at the source.
Do yeast infections go away on their own?
Answer is no. A yeast infection is likely to return if it is not treated properly. A goal of treating yeast infection is to stop the overgrowth of Candida and reduce the itching and burning of the affected area.
Is a yeast diaper rash painful?
Diaper rash caused by yeast are not painful.
Can I use breast milk to treat yeast diaper rash?
Breast milk has been used by mamas around the world to treat eczema, diaper rash, ear infection and much more. But You should NOT use breast milk if you suspect your baby has yeast infection because yeast thrives on sugar from breast milk. Breast milk with feed yeast rather than getting rid of it.
A yeast infection in babies is scary but treatable. It causes discomfort to the babies but with proper hygiene practice and home remedies, you can treat and prevent recurrent yeast infection in your babies. It is always advisable to see doctor if your baby’s rash does not begin to improve within a few days.
Have you tried a home remedy for diaper rash? What worked for you? Leave your comment below.
- Fölster-holst R. Differential diagnoses of diaper dermatitis. Pediatr Dermatol. 2018;35 Suppl 1:s10-s18. doi:10.1111/pde.13484
- Bonifaz A, Rojas R, Tirado-sánchez A, et al. Superficial Mycoses Associated with Diaper Dermatitis. Mycopathologia. 2016;181(9-10):671-9. doi:10.1007/s11046-016-0020-9
- Yagnik D, et al. (2018). Antimicrobial activity of apple cider vinegar against Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus and Candida albicans; downregulating cytokine and microbial protein expression. DOI:10.1038/s41598-017-18618-x
- Hassan SM. (2018). The effect of apple cider vinegar (ACV) as an anti fungal in a diabetic patient (type II diabetes) with intraoral candidosis (a case report) [Abstract]. biocoreopen.org/ijdoh/The-Effect-of Apple-Cider-Vinegar-ACV-as-an-Antifungal-in-a-Diabetic-Patient.php
- Gopal J, et al. (2019). Authenticating apple cider vinegar’s home remedy claims: antibacterial, anti fungal, antiviral properties and cytotoxicity aspect. DOI: 10.1080/14786419.2017.141356
- Shino B, et al. (2016). Comparison of antimicrobial activity of chlorhexidine, coconut oil, probiotics, and ketoconazole on Candida albicans isolated in children with early childhood caries: An in vitro study. DOI:10.1155/2016/7061587
- Di Vito M, et al. (2016). Probiotic and tea tree oil treatments improve therapy of vaginal candidiasis: A preliminary clinical study.
- Nisha K, et al. (2017). Antibacterial and antibiofilm activity of tea tree oil and coconut vinegar against Gardnerella vaginalis.
- Sur R, Nigam A, Grote D, Liebel F, Southall MD. Avenanthramides, polyphenolsfrom oats, exhibit anti-inflammatory and anti-itch activity. Arch Dermatol Res.2008 Nov;300(10):569-74. doi: 10.1007/s00403-008-0858-x. Epub 2008 May 7. PubMed PMID: 18461339.
- Taudorf EH, Jemec GBE, Hay RJ, Saunte DML. Cutaneous candidiasis – An evidence-based review of topical and systemic treatments to inform clinical practice. J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol. 2019; doi:10.1111/jdv.15782