How Common is Yeast Infection in Children?
Yeast infections are a common condition that is caused by overgrowth of a type of fungus known as candida albicans. When most people think of yeast infections, they think of women’s vaginal yeast infections. These are incredibly common because the vulva and vagina both offer perfect growing environments for candida. Around 73% of all women will suffer a yeast infection at least once in their life.
Yeast infections can affect men as well, however, and yeast infection in children can occur sometimes. Young girls can get vaginal yeast infections, and fungal infections can affect other parts of the body, such as the feet, too.
What Causes Yeast Infection in Children?
Yeast infections are caused by a combination of the right environment for the yeast to grow, combined with a lack of the body’s natural flora to prevent the growth of the candida. it is perfectly normal for candida to be present in small amounts on your skin, in your mouth, in the digestive tract and in the vagina. The amount of candida that is present is kept in check by the body’s immune system and by the presence of other bacteria in the same area.
If the environment is very warm, dark and moist, and there is a lot of sugar present, then this creates the perfect environment for more bacteria to grow. if the immune system is weak (perhaps through illness or through medications such as steroids) then candida will thrive and multiply until it starts to cause a problem.
If the body’s natural flora are out of balance – as can happen after a course of antibiotics that kill off other “good” bacteria, then candida will grow at an unchecked rate. It is common for children to suffer yeast infections after taking antibiotics for a strep throat, and it is also common for diabetic children to suffer from yeast infections.
How to Prevent Yeast Infection in Children
Because yeast thrives in dark and moist environments it is important that you encourage your child to wear loose, clean clothing that wicks moisture away. If your child plays a lot of sports, encourage them to wear high-quality tracksuits rather than nylon. Make sure their underwear fits them properly, and make sure that they shower after sport.
As a girl enters puberty they might be more susceptible to a yeast infection. If your daughter complains of itching or discomfort, don’t just dismiss it; take them to a doctor so the possibility of a yeast infection can be ruled out.
Nothing to Be Embarrassed About
It is important that your child understands that these infections are nothing to be ashamed of. While good hygiene can help to prevent these infections, the presence of one does not automatically mean that this person has not been practicing good hygiene. In fact, some detergents and bath lotions can actually cause irritation and make certain people more susceptible to yeast infections. You can reduce this risk by buying mild bath products that are fragrance-free.
If your child enjoys going swimming, buy them high quality swimming trunks or costumes, and make sure that they understand that they should get out of the wet clothing after their swimming session, and dry off promptly. Explain the importance of wearing dry, loose-fit clothing throughout the day, so that air can circulate freely.
Boys, in particular, should be taught that wearing damp socks can increase the risk of fungal infections on their feet. Make sure they keep a spare pair of socks in their gym bag, to change into after playing football in a muddy field.
Most yeast infections can be cleared up quite quickly with a combination of creams and tablets. If your child’s infection does not clear up after a few days, take them back to the doctor. If they suffer from recurring infections, in spite of practicing preventative measures, explain this to the doctor. There may be an underlying condition that is suppressing their immune system and making them more open to infection.
Teaching your child good habits now will help them to avoid yeast infections later in life. Those habits will stand them in good stead when they hit puberty and beyond.