Health Encyclopedia

Candidiasis (Yeast Infection) in Children

What is candidiasis?

Candidiasis, sometimes called moniliasis or a yeast infection, is an infection caused by yeast on the skin and/or mucous membranes. Candida albicans is the most common cause of the infection. Yeast is normally a harmless presence in the digestive system, diaper region, and vaginal area. But it may cause an infection when the skin is damaged or when conditions are warm and humid. This can also happen when a child has a depressed immune system. In some very sick children, it can infect deeper tissues or get in the bloodstream and cause serious illness. Antibiotics, immunosuppressive medicines, and corticosteriods can also cause yeast to grow because the normal bacteria in tissues are killed. This allows the yeast to grow unrestricted.

What are the symptoms of candidiasis?

The symptoms of candidiasis vary depending on the location of the infection. The following are the most common symptoms of a yeast infection. However, each child may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:



Skin folds or navel

  • Red rash with small pustules near edges

  • Patches that ooze clear fluid

  • Pimples

  • Itching or burning


  • White or yellow discharge from the vagina

  • Itching

  • Redness in the external area of the vagina

  • Burning


  • Redness on the penis

  • Scaling on the penis

  • Painful rash on the penis

Mouth (thrush)

  • White patches on the tongue, top of the mouth, and inside of the cheeks

  • Pain

Corners of the mouth (perlèche)

  • Cracks and/or tiny cuts at the corners of the mouth

Nail beds (peronychia) 

  • Swelling

  • Pain

  • Pus

  • White or yellow nail that separates from the nail bed

The symptoms of candidiasis may resemble other skin conditions. Always talk with your child's health care provider for a diagnosis.

How is candidiasis diagnosed?

In addition to a medical history and physical exam of your child, your child's health care provider may scrape off a skin sample to confirm the diagnosis with a microscope or a culture. A skin biopsy can also be performed.

Treatment for candidiasis

Candidiasis is highly treatable with medicated ointments, powders, and creams. Yeast infections in the vagina or anus can be treated with medicated suppositories. Thrush may be treated with a medicated mouthwash or lozenges that dissolve in the mouth. Severe infection or infections in an immunocompromised child may be treated with oral anti-yeast medicines.

Medical Reviewers:

  • Bass, Pat F. III, MD, MPH
  • Berman, Kevin, MD, PhD