Yeast infections in females past puberty are not uncommon. In fact, they become all too familiar with the signs and symptoms of this common and annoying condition. Intense itching, burning and inflammation of the vulva spell trouble for women of child-bearing age in particular. This condition is caused by an excess of the candida yeast that’s present in all warm, moist mucous membranes of men and women, particularly the vagina, mouth, crotch and in between the toes. Yeast infections in adults are easily and safely treated with a variety of anti-fungal agents; pills, creams, suppositories, topical sprays, and oral liquid solutions.
When infants develop yeast infections, it’s considered as an uncommon malady. Adults contract yeast infections in a variety of ways ranging from the medicinal use of antibiotic or steroids, too-tight pants, shorts, or jeans, some soapy bath products, sexual relations with an infected man, and wearing damp socks, underwear or swimsuits. Infants don’t normally do any of these things other than, when absolutely necessary, take antibiotics. Pediatricians know that infants can develop a yeast infection via antibiotics and advise the mother to watch for those tell-tale signs that she’s probably all too familiar with.
Are There Other Ways That Infants Develop Yeast Infections?
Yes, and the other ways aren’t pleasant. If the mother has a yeast infection during her delivery of the child, the infant can develop a yeast infection post-natal. Candida is a fungus of “opportunity.” The vaginal birth canal is warm and moist – just what candida needs in order to flourish. Neo-natal pediatricians may wonder if the mother knew she was infected, and if so, why she did not seek treatment before delivery.
Infant yeast infections can also be caused by the mother failing to keep female infants clean in the vaginal area. Again, an unchanged diaper is exactly the opportunity candida needs. Infant yeast infections also can be caused by inappropriate bathing of the child. Harsh soaps are known to cause adult and infant candida. A first-time mother may not understand that infant soaps must be very gentle so as not to irritate the child’s vulva.
Infants who develop yeast infections from these two causes tell the pediatrician that the mother is either unaware that candida can result from these causes, or that the mother is simply neglectful of the child. For first-time mothers who lack support from their own mother or older sisters, this is easily fixed by the pediatrician referring the mother to free infant care classes available in nearly all hospitals and clinics. Once she understands how infants get yeast infections, it’s unlikely that the condition will re-occur.
Neglectful mothers who lack patience and interest in their newborn are more difficult to cope with. They may be fully aware that infants develop yeast infections from unchanged diapers and improper bathing, but they fail to correct their parenting behavior. In this case, if the mother seems unreceptive to the pediatrician’s advice, the doctor must decide if this is a situation that warrants mandatory reporting to their local child abuse and neglect social workers.
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