Candida Skin Infection (Child)

Candida is type of yeast. It grows naturally on the skin and in the mouth. If it grows out of control, it can cause an infection. Candida can cause infections in the genital area, mouth, skin folds, and other moist areas. Any child can get this infection. It’s more common in a child who has been on antibiotic therapy, or has a weak immune system from conditions like diabetes or cancer. It’s also more common in a child who is overweight or who uses a splint, brace, or artificial limb (prosthesis).

Candida causes the skin to become bright red and inflamed. The skin may have small bumps. The border of the infected part of the skin is often raised. The infection causes pain and itching. Sometimes the skin peels and bleeds.

A Candida rash is most often treated with an antifungal cream or ointment. The rash will often go away within 1 to 2 weeks after starting the medicine. Infections that don’t go away may need a prescription medicine. In rare cases, a bacterial infection can also occur.

Home care

Your child’s healthcare provider will recommend an antifungal cream or ointment for the rash. They may also prescribe a medicine for the itch. Follow all instructions for giving these medicines to your child.

General care

Candida grows best in warm, moist environments. So keeping the skin cool and dry can help.

For children who wear diapers:

  • Change your child’s diaper as soon as it is soiled. Always change the diaper at least once at night. Put the diaper on loosely.

  • Gently pat the area clean with a warm, wet, soft cloth. Dried stool can be loosened by squeezing warm water on the area or adding a few drops of mineral oil. If you use soap, it should be gentle and scent-free.

  • Allow your child to go without a diaper for periods of time. Exposing the skin to air will help it to heal. Don’t use a hair dryer or heat lamp on your child’s skin. These can cause skin burns.

  • Use a breathable cover for cloth diapers instead of rubber pants. Slit the elastic legs or cover of a disposable diaper in a few places. This will allow air to reach your child’s skin.

  • Don’t use powders, such as talc or cornstarch. Talc is harmful to a child’s lungs. Cornstarch can cause the Candida infection to get worse.

  • Wash your hands well with soap and clean running water before and after changing your child’s diaper.

For children who don’t wear diapers:

  • Have your child wear clean, loose cotton underwear and pants every day.

  • Have your child change out of a wet bathing suit right away.

  • Help your child keep their genital area clean and dry after using the toilet. Try to prevent your child from scratching the area.

  • Have your child wash their hands well with warm water and soap after using the toilet and before eating.

  • Wash your hands well with clean, running water and soap after caring for your child. This helps prevent the spread of infection.

Follow-up care

Follow up with your child’s healthcare provider, or as advised. The time it takes the skin to heal varies with the severity of the infection. Candida infections in young children that come back or don’t go away may be a sign of another medical problem.

When to call your healthcare provider

Call your child's healthcare provider right away if any of these occur:

  • Fever (see Fever and children, below)

  • Redness and swelling that gets worse

  • Foul-smelling fluid coming from the skin

  • Pain that gets worse

  • Rash doesn't get better after treatment

Fever and children

Use a digital thermometer to check your child’s temperature. Don’t use a mercury thermometer. There are different kinds and uses of digital thermometers. They include:

  • Rectal. For children younger than 3 years, a rectal temperature is the most accurate.

  • Forehead (temporal). This works for children age 3 months and older. If a child under 3 months old has signs of illness, this can be used for a first pass. The provider may want to confirm with a rectal temperature.

  • Ear (tympanic). Ear temperatures are accurate after 6 months of age, but not before.

  • Armpit (axillary). This is the least reliable but may be used for a first pass to check a child of any age with signs of illness. The provider may want to confirm with a rectal temperature.

  • Mouth (oral). Don’t use a thermometer in your child’s mouth until they are at least 4 years old.

Use the rectal thermometer with care. Follow the product maker’s directions for correct use. Insert it gently. Label it and make sure it’s not used in the mouth. It may pass on germs from the stool. If you don’t feel OK using a rectal thermometer, ask the healthcare provider what type to use instead. When you talk with any healthcare provider about your child’s fever, tell them which type you used.

Below are guidelines to know if your young child has a fever. Your child’s healthcare provider may give you different numbers for your child. Follow your provider’s specific instructions.

Fever readings for a baby under 3 months old:

  • First, ask your child’s healthcare provider how you should take the temperature.

  • Rectal or forehead: 100.4°F (38°C) or higher

  • Armpit: 99°F (37.2°C) or higher

Fever readings for a child age 3 months to 36 months (3 years):

  • Rectal, forehead, or ear: 102°F (38.9°C) or higher

  • Armpit: 101°F (38.3°C) or higher

Call the healthcare provider in these cases:

  • Repeated temperature of 104°F (40°C) or higher in a child of any age

  • Fever of 100.4° (38°C) or higher in baby younger than 3 months

  • Fever that lasts more than 24 hours in a child under age 2

  • Fever that lasts for 3 days in a child age 2 or older

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