Fungal Skin Infections In Babies – Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

6 min read

Written by Editorial Team

Editorial Team

Fungal Infection In Babies

Baby’s skin is very sensitive and is susceptible to infections, especially during the first year. So, if your baby’s skin appears scaly, it can be a sign of fungal infection. Similarly, a tendency to scratch any part of the body like the head, face, hand, foot, or even the diaper area can also be a sign of fungal infection in babies.

Red patches that appear on the irritated area 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 them.

In This Article

What Are Fungal Infections In Babies?

Fungi are very small parasites that develop in areas such as dirt and 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 the baby (like the armpit, diaper area, and neck) are mostly affected by the fungal infection.

Tinea is the most commonly found fungal infection among 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

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 lesions that spread to a significant area of the scalp. The part of the hair that gets infected become fragile and easily breaks, and the affected area is extremely itchy.

Body Ringworm/Tinea Corporis

This fungal infection can affect any part of the baby’s body, including the face (cheeks, chin, neck, and forehead). It is characterized by a typical itchy, circular lesion with a red border.

Fungal Infection In The Diaper Area

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 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 a fungal infection then just a nappy rash.

Nail Fungal Infections/Tinea Unguium

Nail ringworm is a fungal infection affecting the finger or toe nail, characterized by a thickened, deformed yellow-colored nail. Toenails are mostly affected than the fingernails.

Causes Of Fungal Skin Infections In Babies

Causes of fungal infection in babies

Both babies and older children can become infected with a fungal infection, as it is very contagious. The baby can be infected through physical contact, or by sharing toys, towels, carpets, sheets, hair brushes, 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 be 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

Symptoms of fungal infection in babies

Circular patches with a scaly red outline with a 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 the baby’s scalp, the baby develops itchy bald spots with the remnants of broken hairs. Other infections are:

  • At times, the skin can get infected and can ooze out pus.
  • Nails become thick and discolored
  • The sole of the baby’s feet develops cracks

How To Treat Fungal Infection In Babies?

The treatment is based on the baby’s age, baby’s health, intensity of infection, and 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 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 infections on the scalp.
  • The doctor will recommend some anti-fungal cream to be applied to the affected area.
  • It is also recommended not to cover the 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

How To Treat Fungal Infection In Babies

The doctor will recommend anti-fungal cream to treat fungal skin infections on the baby’s body. The cream should be applied to the affected area as per the directions. Usually, four to eight weeks of treatment are prescribed.

However, it is advisable to complete the course, even if the external symptoms subside. Depending on the intensity of the infection, sometimes the 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, the 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 anti-fungal cream as the cream also acts as a barrier in protecting the skin from dampness.

Are Fungal Infections In Babies Dangerous?

Is fungal infection in baby dangerous

In normal cases, 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 IVs 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 fungal skin infections in babies at bay:

  • Make the baby wear flip-flops when she goes to the 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.

Editorial Team,

With a rich experience in pregnancy and parenting, our team of experts create insightful, well-curated, and easy-to-read content for our to-be-parents and parents at all stages of parenting.Read more.

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