Baby’s skin is very sensitive and is susceptible to infections, especially during the first year. So, if your baby’s skin appears scaly, or if the baby shows a tendency to scratch any part of the body like her head, face, hand, foot, or even the diaper area, and if red patches appear on the irritated area, you can suspect fungal infection. It can be a bothering condition for both mother and her baby. Read on to know about the different types and causes of fungal infections and ways to deal with it.
What Are Fungal Infections In Babies?
Fungi are very small parasites that develop in areas such as dirt and on food. Likewise, they can also grow on the skin, mouth, hair and even on the nails of almost all living beings. Usually, these microbes are harmless, yet occasionally they can bring about problems called fungal infection.
Here we are talking about fungal skin infections in babies. In babies, the skin fungi live on the top layer of skin cells or soggy zones of the body, for example, between the toes or in the diaper area.
What Are The Different Types Of Fungal Infections In Babies?
There are several fungal infections affecting different parts of a baby’s body. As the fungus grows in moist, sweaty and warm areas, the folds of the skin of baby (like armpit, diaper area, and neck) are mostly affected by the fungal infection.
Tinea is the most commonly found fungal infections among the babies. This appears on hair, nail or skin. Tinea initially appears as small red spots and then eventually spread forming a red circle or ring. Hence, it is also called ringworm as it appears like small worms inside the skin. The fungal infection is differentiated according to the part in which it appears.
- Scalp ringworm/ tinea capitis: This fungal infection affects the scalp of the baby. The hair follicle gets affected. It is characterized by patches of scaly, circular lesion that spreads to a significant area of the scalp. The part of the hair that get infected become fragile and easily break, and the affected area is extremely itchy
- Body ringworm/tinea corporis: This fungal infection can affect any part of baby’s body, including the face (cheeks, chin, neck, and forehead). It is characterized by typical itchy, circular lesion with a red border
- Fungal infection in diaper area: Usually, the fungal infection in the diaper area is easily mistaken for diaper rash. If the irritation and redness are symmetrical on the both sides of the area, where the skin stays in contact and if the redness and irritation persist even after applying the cream for nappy rash, you can consider it as fungal infection than just a nappy rash
- Nail fungal infections/tinea unguium: Nail ringworm is a fungal infection affecting the finger or toenail, characterized by a thickened, deformed yellow colored nail. Toenails are mostly affected than the fingernails
Causes Of Fungal Skin Infections In Babies
Both babies and older children can become infected with fungal infection, as it is very contagious. The baby can be infected through physical contact, or by sharing toys, towels, carpets, sheets, hairbrushes, clothes, and hats. Pets can carry and transfer the fungus to the baby when you let your baby play with the infected pet. It can even present in soil (moist, sweaty, warm, and unclean skin supports the growth of fungi). Therefore, the chances of your baby getting infected when you take him to a garden or park are high. Swimming pools and other shared spaces are prime spots to pick up these infections.
Fungal skin infections in babies occur when fungi attack the outermost layer of their skin on the body or scalp. Excess sweating in babies only aggravates the infection.
Symptoms Of Fungal Infection In Babies
- Circular patches with a scaly red outline with smooth center
- The area of the circle and the number of patches increases with the increase in humidity, as the fungus thrives in moist conditions
- When the fungus infection occurs on baby’s scalp, the baby develops itchy bald spots with the remnants of broken hairs
- At times, the skin can get infected and can ooze out pus
- Nails become thick and discolored
- Sole of baby’s feet develops cracks
How To Treat Fungal Infection In Babies?
The treatment is based on baby’s age, baby’s health, the intensity of infection and the location of infection. It is very important to prevent the baby from scratching the affected area, as it can aggravate the infection and it can spread to other parts. Never let the baby’s nails to grow. Some of the most common treatment options for fungal skin infection in babies are:
- Treatment options for fungal infection on the scalp
- Antifungal shampoo is used in treating fungal infection on the scalp
- Doctor will recommend some anti-fungal cream to be applied on the affected area
- It is also recommended not to cover baby’s head with a cap or cloth. Expose the affected area to air as this will help the patches to dry up soon, and the recovery will be faster
- Treatment options for fungal infection on the body
- Doctor will recommend anti-fungal cream to treat fungal skin infection on baby’s body. The cream should be applied on the affected area as per the directions. Usually, four to eight weeks of treatment is prescribed. However, it is advisable to complete the course even if the external symptoms subside
- Depending on the intensity of the infection, sometime doctor may also prescribe oral medication
- Dress your baby in loose cotton clothes only
- Treatment options for fungal infection in diaper area
- Keeping the skin dry is the primary concern when it comes to fungal infection in the diaper area. Unlike other areas, diaper area is more subjected to dampness (which helps the thriving of fungus). To avoid this, sometimes doctors suggest using cornstarch in the diaper area
- Diapers should be frequently changed
- Use mild soap and water to clean the diaper area
- Never let the infected area without applying the antifungal cream as the cream also acts as a barrier in protecting the skin from dampness
Are Fungal Infections In Babies Dangerous?
In normal cases, the fungal infections in babies are not dangerous. However, if the baby has a weak immune system, the infection can get into the circulatory system, which is a dangerous condition. This usually happens if the baby is under some treatment for which IV’s or Catheters are induced into their skin for a prolonged period.
How To Prevent Fungal Infections In Babies
Here are some preventive measures to keep the fungal skin infections in babies at bay:
- Make the baby wear flip flops when she goes to pool area or other sharing places
- Never overdress the baby. Sweating encourages the fungus to thrive
- Don’t share your baby’s hair brush, towels, pillows, etc. with anyone even her older sibling
- As fungal infections are contagious, never let your baby play with infected pets and people
- Make sure you follow good hygiene measures and keep her clean and fresh always
Has your baby ever suffered any fungal infection? How did you deal with it and what measures did you take to prevent it? Don’t forget to share with us in the comments section below.