Candida yeast, or Candida albicans, is a yeast-like fungus that naturally occurs in the human body. Candida yeast thrives in moist, warm areas, occasionally growing out of control and causing health problems. Toddlers typically experience Candida yeast infections in their mouths, a condition called oral thrush, and groin areas, called Candida-associated diaper rash.
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Oral thrush occurs when Candida yeast accumulates on the lining of your toddler's mouth. The University of Maryland Medical Center, or UMMC, notes that symptoms include creamy, white lesions that form on the tongue and inside of the cheeks. These sores sometimes develop on your child’s gums, tonsils and roof of the mouth. Many children also suffer from painful cracking at the corners of their mouths. Toddlers often have a hard time eating, so they become uncharacteristically fussy or irritable. The UMMC explains that Candida-associated diaper rash causes red skin rashes and tiny blisters to develop in the groin area where sweat tends to get trapped.
Candida albicans is generally kept under control by the good bacteria that naturally occurs in the body. If an individual's immune system becomes weakened, the yeast has a chance to overgrow and cause infections. In toddlers, Candida yeast overgrowth is primarily caused by taking antibiotic medications prescribed to treat bacterial infections. Anemia and chemotherapy treatments might also cause your child to have higher Candida yeast levels.
Pediatricians typically diagnose oral thrush simply by looking at the lesions in your child’s mouth. According to the UMMC, more severe oral thrush cases might require the doctor to collect a small sample with a sterile swab. The doctor then examines the culture underneath a microscope to determine the exact cause of the yeast infection.
Symptoms of both oral thrush and Candida-associated diaper rash typically go away within seven to fourteen days. If your toddler has a severe case of oral thrush, the doctor might prescribe an anti-fungal medication. Diaper rash symptoms usually respond well to over-the-counter medications designed to treat this condition. MayoClinic.com suggests feeding your toddler yogurt that contains Lactobacillus acidophilus, a good bacteria thought to keep the yeast under control.
The MayoClinic.com reminds you that the Candida albicans yeast rarely causes severe complications in generally healthy toddlers. Help your child reduce the risk of Candida yeast infections by teaching them proper oral hygiene practices. Keep your toddler's groin area clean and dry to reduce the risk of Candida-associated diaper rash.