How to treat toddler yeast infection?

toddler yeast infection
Medically reviewed by Dr. Mandy Liedeman

Key Takeaways

  1. Yeast infections in toddlers are more common than expected, often affecting the diaper area. Candida, a naturally occurring fungus in the body, becomes problematic in toddlers when the skin is compromised, the environment is warm and humid, or the child’s immune system is weakened. 
  2. Factors such as prolonged exposure to wet diapers, disruptions in the microbiome balance (potentially caused by antibiotics), and transmission through breastfeeding can contribute to yeast overgrowth in toddlers.
  3. Addressing skin yeast infections in toddlers involves the application of antifungal ointments, while more systemic issues may require oral antifungal medications. Open communication with healthcare professionals is crucial for both effective treatment and prevention strategies.


Yeast infections in toddlers might not be the first concern for parents, but these discomforting issues, common in adult women, can affect our little ones too, particularly in the diaper area. Communicating health problems with toddlers, who may not express discomfort clearly, adds a layer of complexity. Despite this, yeast infections are more prevalent than expected, with many toddlers experiencing them. These infections occur when the yeast Candida grows uncontrollably, leading to discomfort, especially in babies and toddlers. Keep reading to explore the causes, treatment, and prevention strategies for yeast infection in your toddler. 

What is a yeast infection in a toddler?

In every individual, the fungus Candida resides naturally in various body areas, including the intestines, mouth, skin, and genital regions. Thriving in warm, dark environments like the vagina or armpits, Candida, when it proliferates uncontrollably, triggers a yeast infection.

Yeast, identified as Candida, is present on everyone’s body, typically in the mouth, intestines, and skin. Disruptions to the body’s microbial balance, induced by antibiotics, stress, or irritation, create favorable conditions for yeast overgrowth. This overgrowth leads to the onset of a yeast infection.

Candidiasis, an infection caused by the yeast Candida, is generally harmless. However, it can overgrow under certain circumstances, resulting in symptoms such as rash, itching, and discomfort. The term “pediatric yeast infection” encompasses instances where naturally occurring fungi, like Candida, grow excessively, leading to irritation in toddlers. Understanding these dynamics lays the foundation for effectively recognizing and managing yeast infections in our little ones.

A mother’s hygiene is important to keep the toddler healthy.
See a doctor for yeast infections.

How does a child get a yeast infection?

Yeast infection can be triggered by various reasons, from the availability of a perfectly warm and humid environment for growth, low immunity, tight of wet clothing, poor personal hygiene, genetics, contact with infected individuals, from mother to child, corticosteroid medications, diabetes, dietary factors, and imbalance due to antibiotics. In severe cases, particularly in very ill children, yeast can infiltrate deeper tissues or the bloodstream, leading to serious illnesses.


The warm, moist environment beneath diapers creates an ideal breeding ground for yeast. Regardless of diaper type, the risk of yeast infections remains high when wet or soiled diapers persist against the skin, making this a prominent cause in babies and toddlers.

Microbiome Imbalance and Yeast Overgrowth

The intricate ecosystem within the body, known as the microbiome, plays a crucial role. Disruptions to this balance may lead to an excess of yeast. This imbalance, theorized to contribute to yeast infections, can occur when excess yeast passes through the digestive system and exits the body.


Antibiotics, essential for fighting infections, can inadvertently disrupt the microbiome by eliminating both harmful and beneficial bacteria. This disruption creates an environment where yeast can thrive, potentially causing a yeast infection. Toddlers undergoing antibiotic treatment are particularly vulnerable to this imbalance. Not all antibiotics cause yeast infection, but broad-spectrum antibiotics like azithromycin, amoxicillin, and tetracycline have higher chances of causing yeast infection in toddlers as they kill several bacteria. 

Transmission through Breastfeeding

Adults taking antibiotics may develop yeast infections around the nipples, subsequently passing them to babies or toddlers through breastfeeding. This interconnected aspect highlights the potential transmission of yeast infections and the importance of considering various factors in managing and preventing these infections in children.

How do you treat a yeast infection in a child?

Addressing skin yeast infections in toddlers typically involves the application of antifungal ointments directly to the affected areas. These targeted treatments aim to combat the overgrowth of yeast and alleviate symptoms effectively. Over-the-counter topical antifungals for mild cases are effective, containing active ingredients like nystatin or clotrimazole. 

In cases where yeast infections extend beyond the skin, affecting areas like the mouth or spreading to other parts of the body, oral antifungal medications such as fluconazole become necessary. These medications provide a systemic approach to tackling the underlying infection.

While most yeast infections show improvement within two weeks of initiating treatment, being aware of the reinfection is essential. Managing and preventing these infections requires targeted treatments to address potential contributing factors, ensuring the child’s well-being in the long run.

What is the difference between a yeast infection and a diaper rash?

Confusion may arise when distinguishing between a yeast infection and other types of diaper rash. The most common diaper rash, resulting from chafing and irritation, is generally painful but less severe. 

A key indicator of a yeast infection is a bright red rash with small red dots around the edges. Notably, yeast infections do not respond to typical diaper creams, setting them apart from other diaper rash types. Studies suggest that 80% of cases of candidiasis can complicate and develop diaper dermatitis if not treated. 

What Does a Yeast Infection Look Like on a Toddler?

Toddlers can develop yeast infections in various skin folds, including the armpits, neck, mouth, and diaper area. As toddlers are constantly in motion, reluctance to pause for diaper changes or potty breaks may lead to prolonged moisture, fostering yeast growth.

Particularly in skin folds, a yeast infection manifests as a bright red rash with distinctive characteristics. Vigilance in areas prone to moisture accumulation becomes crucial in preventing and managing yeast infections in active toddlers. Moreover, yeast infection in toddlers can also cause oral thrush in the mouth due to the overgrowth of fungus over the tongue, causing the development of a thick cottage cheese-like layer. Here are some of the conditions yeast infection can cause in toddlers: 

  • Pulmonary Candidiasis (Very rare, often in premature infants with underlying health issues)
  • Systemic Candidiasis (Rare in healthy infants)
  • Diaper Rash with Yeast (Candidal Dermatitis)
  • Scalp Yeast Infection (Cradle Cap)
  • Nailbed Infection (Paronychia)
  • Invasive Candidiasis (Rare)
  • Cutaneous Candidiasis
  • Perianal Infection
  • Intertrigo

How do you prevent fungal infections in toddlers?

Preventing yeast infections in toddlers is paramount, and open communication with your child’s doctor is key. Limiting the use of antibiotics when absolutely necessary is crucial, as frequent use can disrupt the balance of “good” bacteria, leaving the door open for yeast overgrowth.

  • Antibiotics use: The use of antibiotics should be discussed with your child’s doctor to avoid unnecessary disruption to the body’s bacterial balance.
  • Check Pacifiers and Bottle Nipples: Older pacifiers and bottle nipples can harbor yeast growth, posing a risk for oral yeast infections. Regularly inspect and replace these items, ensuring proper cleaning in hot water or a dishwasher to eliminate yeast.
  • Prioritize Frequent Diaper Changes: Keep your toddler’s diaper area dry to prevent yeast infections, especially at night. Allow for “air time” after diaper changes, letting the skin fully dry before reapplying a diaper.
  • Mother Nipple Infection: If the mother has a nipple infection, treatment of the mother is also required to protect the toddler from infection.
Your toddler having diaper area infection?
Get antifungal cream without going to the doctor’s office.

Consult a doctor

If your toddler experiences frequent yeast infections, consult their doctor. Recurrent infections may signal an underlying issue that requires targeted treatment. Yeast infections in the diaper area typically cease once your child is out. If challenges persist, seeking professional advice ensures a comprehensive approach to resolving the issue at its source. By incorporating these preventative measures into your routine, you can proactively protect your toddler from the discomfort and challenges of yeast infections, fostering their overall well-being.

While most yeast infections in toddlers resolve within two weeks, with improvement in symptoms within 2 to 3 days of antifungal medication use, it is crucial to remain vigilant. Seeking medical advice becomes imperative if the toddler’s yeast infection spreads over a larger area, causing worsening or new symptoms, or if the affected area becomes warmer, red, swollen, or oozing fluid. In any such cases, never leave a toddler’s health to chance. Immediate consultation with an online doctor ensures comprehensive care and timely intervention for the child’s well-being.

FAQs about toddler yeast infection

What is the leading cause of yeast infection in girls?

Most cases of vaginal yeast infections are attributed to the fungus Candida albicans. The vagina typically maintains a harmonious combination of yeast, including candida, and bacteria. Specific bacteria, such as lactobacillus, play a role in preventing the excessive growth of yeast. However, this balance can be disturbed if you are on broad-spectrum antibiotics, which kill almost all bacteria. 

What is the best cream for a toddler yeast infection?

For yeast infections in the diaper area, vagina, or other skin locations, the use of an antifungal cream is commonly advised. Additionally, incorporating practices such as air-drying the diaper area for five to 10 minutes before putting on a new diaper and applying an over-the-counter (OTC) topical antifungal like Mycostatin (nystatin), Lotrimin (miconazole), or Monistat (tioconazole) with every diaper change can contribute to the effectiveness of the treatment.

Is Lotrimin safe for kids?

Lotrimin Ultra is suitable for use in individuals aged 12 and above. All other Lotrimin AF products are safe for adults and children aged two and above. It is advisable to supervise children when using Lotrimin products.

Your Doctors Online uses high-quality and trustworthy sources to ensure content accuracy and reliability. We rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions and medical associations to provide up-to-date and evidence-based information to the users.

  • Blaschke-hellmessen, Renate. “Experimental studies on the epidemiology of yeast infections in infants and toddlers.” Mykosen 15.1 (1972): 23-26.
  • Cobos, Gabriela, et al. “A case of exuberant candidal onychomycosis in a child with hyper IgE syndrome.” The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice 2.1 (2014): 99-100.
  • Cobos, Gabriela, et al. “A case of exuberant candidal onychomycosis in a child with hyper IgE syndrome.” The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice 2.1 (2014): 99-100.
  • Maclean, Allan B. “Genital yeast infections.” British Medical Journal 2.6085 (1977): 523.
  • Van Nieuwenhuyse, Brieuc, et al. “Bacteriophage-antibiotic combination therapy against extensively drug-resistant Pseudomonas aeruginosa infection to allow liver transplantation in a toddler.” Nature communications 13.1 (2022): 5725.

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