Yeast is a type of fungus that is normally found in a healthy human body. However, under certain conditions, yeast can begin to multiply, resulting in a yeast infection. Candida albicans is usually the most common culprit, typically causing infections in the diaper area or the mouth of infants. Conditions that encourage yeast growth include warm, humid places, damaged skin, a depressed immune system, and the use of antibiotics.
Skin that is damp from extended contact with a dirty or wet diaper is prone to a yeast infection. In the diaper area, you will see a clearly defined red rash with little red bumps along the edges of the rash over the buttocks and in the folds of skin. If you treat your baby’s diaper rash with a regular zinc oxide cream and the rash does not get better, it could be a yeast infection, and you should consult your doctor.
Another type of yeast infection common in babies under 6 months old is a yeast infection in the mouth, better known as oral thrush. They may have trouble feeding and seem cranky because of pain. You are likely to see white patches on your baby’s tongue and in your baby’s mouth on the insides of the cheeks. Often, thrush and diaper rash will occur at the same time.
A yeast infection in the diaper area can be treated with an antifungal cream, such as nystatin, that you apply on the rash several times a day. Be sure to keep the baby’s diaper area clean and dry and use a barrier cream to protect irritated skin.
Treatment for thrush is with oral antifungal drops (usually nystatin), which your doctor will prescribe. If you are breastfeeding, your nipples should also be treated after each feeding, usually at the same time you give your baby oral antifungal drops. If it takes longer than two weeks to clear up the infection, consult your doctor.
Reviewed by Dr. Sara Connolly, November 2019