Babies are born with a sterile digestive system. This means that there are no bacteria in their intestine and the immune system is not yet active. As they pass through the vagina canal, they swallow vaginal fluids and acquire the first dose of good bacteria. Later they suckle their mother’s breast and get introduced to colostrum. Colostrum is good food for bacteria, so they grow and attach to the intestinal wall. As a result the immune system is jump started.
These bacteria start working in the digestive system and establish large colonies. Since these are the good bacteria, they form the body’s first line of defense against bad bacteria, viruses, pathogens and microbes that make the body ill. Apart from good bacteria, the body also acquires protection from colostrums monosaccharides and every antigen the mother introduces to the child through breast milk.
Breastfeeding is considered the best head start you can give your child for the first year of their life. All the antibodies the mother passes to the child helps to build the immune system, as a result the child is less likely to require medicines that causes yeast in children.
Yeast infections are caused by a wide range of fungus known as candida. There are many types of fungus; some are harmless while others cause infections. Yeast infection range from the superficial such as thrush to life-threatening diseases which are usually experienced by people with an immunosupressed system.
Currently there are more than 20 types of candida, the most common is candida albicans, the main culprit behind most of popular infections. Yeast is among the organisms that are found on most parts of the body and rarely cause any problems.
Yeast causes problems when the balance of microbes, especially between fungi and bacteria is upset. This results in an overgrowth of candida. Apart from this, yeast also tends to thrive in moist areas of the body such as the groin. In most children, yeast infections flare up and heal, however in newborns the delicate immune system usually have a hard time combating these infections on their own.
Many toddlers get candida infections through their mothers during the delivery process since it exists in the mother’s vagina. When the baby is delivered through the birth canal, he/she comes into contact with the yeast.
Signs and symptom of yeast infection in children
Signs and symptoms of candida infection usually vary depending on the location of the infection. Vagina infections often present with a white thick discharge that is often described as having a cottage cheese appearance. The infection can cause irritation and itching in the vagina as well as the surrounding areas. Occasionally the child may complain of pain when peeing.
Oral yeast infection also known as thrush presents with the following symptoms:
- Red tongue
- Thick white lacy patches on top of a red base which forms on the palate or tongue
- Difficulty eating
Superficial yeast infection on skin appears like red flat rash with sharp edges. These usually cause itching or pain.
Candida infection is normally diagnosed by asking about symptoms and physical examination of the affected area. Oral thrush is diagnosed by examining the mouth while nappy rash is diagnosed by examining the skin around the anus.
Treating yeast infection in children
Candida infections can be treated at home using home remedies, over-the-counter drugs or prescription drugs. Normally the condition clears within a week. Nappy rash and skin rashes are ordinarily treated with antifungal creams or ointments. On the other hand oral infections are treated with a mouthwash containing antifungal properties.
Unless a child has a compromised immune system, the candida infection should clear within a week or two. If symptoms recur or continue for more than two weeks, you should consult a physician.
Apart from conventional treatments, mothers can use supplementary approaches to deal with this condition. Colostrum is one of the highly effective treatments of yeast infections in children. Colostrum contains high levels of immunoglobulin which defends the mucous lining in the body. It is also capable of killing bacteria, yeast and helps the body fight off viral infections.
Managing yeast infections
Children with yeast infections should have their diapers changed frequently. The toddler’s skin should also be washed gently with water, mild soap, rinsed and patted dry. Ointments and creams such as Desitin can be applied to deal with the condition. Corn Starch can be applied to help with mild diaper rash but it should never be used for toddlers with inflamed skin.
Children with yeast infections should not be kept in isolation since most healthy people already have candida. Observing good hygiene practices such as washing hands and disposing oral and nasal secretions is usually enough to avoid passing the infection to other children.
Apart from treating yeast infection in children the condition can be managed by adjusting the diet. Getting sugar in the child’s diet under control is one of the main approaches to dealing with this problem effectively. Sugar contains simple carbs, these feed the candida and make it thrive. Restricting sugar intake goes a long way in inhibiting proliferation of yeast and managing yeast infection in children effectively.