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What is the Connection Between Thrush and Diaper Rash?

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  • Written By: Marjorie McAtee
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 22 September 2016
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Thrush, or candidiasis yeast infection, is a common cause of diaper rash. Thrush and diaper rash are often connected because the diaper area can be warm and damp, providing the ideal environment for candida yeast, the organism responsible for thrush or candidiasis, to grow. Skin normally has the ability to repel yeast infections, but not if its integrity is impaired. Diaper rash often occurs due to chronic warmth and dampness in the diaper area, combined with the irritating nature of infant bodily excretions. When the diaper area remains warm, damp, and irritated, the skin's integrity suffers, it loses its ability to repel yeast, and a yeast infection diaper rash can occur.

Diaper rash does not always occur because of thrush infection. Most diaper rashes occur because the diaper area is chronically warm and damp. Human urine and feces are normally acidic in nature, and these acids can exacerbate the skin irritation that manifests as diaper rash.

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Thrush and diaper rash occur together when the skin's integrity is compromised by chronic moisture and acidity. Diaper rash, uncomplicated by bacterial or fungal infection, typically occurs before thrush. Thrush diaper rash usually begins with the breakdown of skin in the anal region. Thrush diaper rash may also begin in the body folds around the legs, where contact diaper rash typically does not appear. Generally, body fold areas are more protected from irritants, but in the case of thrush and diaper rash, body fold areas are warmer and damper and provide a better environment for candida yeast to thrive.

Canidida yeast occur naturally in the body as part of its normal flora. Under the right conditions, however, overgrowth of candida yeast can occur, leading to candidiasis, also known as thrush or yeast infection. The candida yeast implicated in thrush and diaper rash may come from the gastrointestinal tract. Caregivers may also unknowingly expose their babies to candida yeast. Thrush and diaper rash can also occur at the same time as oral thrush, and nursing babies may spread the skin infection back and forth to their mothers while nursing.

Thrush and diaper rash occur together in up to 25 percent of babies. Many babies contract this minor fungal skin infection due to chronic warmth and wetness in the diaper area, but antibiotic use can also contribute to thrush and diaper rash. That's because antibiotics may kill off too many of the normal flora bacteria that keep candida yeast under control. Thrush diaper rashes, as with contact diaper rashes, typically clear up and do not recur after the infant stops wearing diapers in favor of cloth underwear.

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