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How do I Recognize a Baby Yeast Infection?

By Ashley Farris
Updated Feb 29, 2024
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Recognizing signs and symptoms of a baby yeast infection can be difficult, because it presents characteristics similar to diaper rash. A diaper rash is quite common in infants, but it is important to know the difference between a normal diaper rash and an infection, so that it can be treated properly. Unlike diaper rash, which is comprised of small bumps, a yeast infection will appear as a large and flat red rash surrounded by smaller red spots. It also will last several days and remain unresponsive to typical diaper rash treatments.

A diaper is a perfect breeding ground for yeast, which flourishes in warm, moist environments. When untreated, a normal diaper rash can give way to a baby yeast infection after yeast has contaminated the area. A diaper rash presents with small, pimple-like bumps in the diaper area, but a yeast infection spreads to create a shiny, red patch covering the skin. It also extends to the legs, abdomen and inside folds of skin around the thighs, and it is bordered by a slightly raised edge. Diaper rash, on the other hand, will not be found inside creases of skin and does not reach as far outside of the diaper.

A surefire indicator of a yeast infection in a baby is its unresponsiveness to creams and typical treatments for diaper rash. Yeast infections can be successfully treated only with anti-fungal cream. Although a baby might experience temporary relief from itching and irritation, diaper cream will not decrease redness in the area of the yeast infection.

Babies who have been given antibiotics or who have been breastfed by mothers on antibiotics are more likely to develop a baby yeast infection. Antibiotics kill off bacteria in the body that normally keep levels of yeast in check. Without these bacteria, yeast is free to grow past healthy levels and thus cause infections. The appearance of a persistent rash paired with recent ingestion of antibiotics likely points toward a infection.

Thrush is another indicator of a baby yeast infection. Thrush is an oral yeast infection affecting the lining of the mouth and tongue. This yeast can be swallowed, digested and expelled in a baby's stool, thus infecting the diaper area. A baby who recently suffered from a case of thrush should be monitored for the development of another infection.

When in doubt, a visit to the doctor is the best way to be sure about a baby yeast infection. It can be hard to tell it apart from a normal diaper rash and can be recognized more easily by a professional. Although anti-fungal creams are available without a prescription, a doctor can diagnose an infection quickly, provide instructions for treatment and offer effective tips for preventing infections in the future.

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Discussion Comments

By burcinc — On Apr 28, 2014

@candyquilt-- I second this.

A diaper rash heals very quickly when it is treated. If you keep the baby's bottom dry, use powder and zinc oxide cream with lanolin, the diaper rash will go away in a day or two at most. But a yeast infection will not go away so quickly despite the type of treatment.

By candyquilt — On Apr 27, 2014

@stoneMason-- Don't blame yourself. Sometimes even doctors cannot tell what a rash is just by looking. They have to treat it to find out or they have to run a test on it.

When we took our son in for a rash, the doctor said to treat it as a diaper rash and come back if diaper rash treatments don't work. I think that this is the main method doctors and parents use to tell if a baby has a diaper rash or a yeast infection.

So we used diaper rash creams for a week and when the symptoms did not go away, we went back to the doctor who prescribed an anti-fungal cream. The yeast infection went away soon after we started the anti-fungal cream.

So next time, just proceed with diaper rash treatments and take the baby in if those don't work.

By stoneMason — On Apr 27, 2014

My baby had a rash last month that I could not identify. I read all about diaper rashes and yeast infections but I still couldn't tell what type of rash my daughter had by appearance. The doctor recognized it as a yeast infection.

A baby yeast infection is really very difficult to tell apart from a diaper rash. I know they don't technically look the same, but it's not easy for an untrained eye to tell them apart.

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