Fungal Skin Infection [Infant] - University of Minnesota Medical Center
 
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Fungal Skin Infection [Infant/Toddler]

A fungus is a type of organism that lives on the skin. It is usually harmless. But sometimes it can cause an infection on the surface of the skin. Fungal skin infections are fairly common and not usually serious in children. However, they are considered serious in high-risk infants, especially those with compromised immune systems. In these babies, the infection can spread through their bodies, so they may be admitted to the hospital if they show signs of fungal infection.

A fungal infection on the skin usually begins as a small red area the size of a pea. Sometimes the patch is scaly. As the fungus grows, it spreads out in a red ring or circle. The area may itch. This type of infection is called tinea or ringworm, but it is NOT caused by a worm. Fungal skin infections usually grow on the head, chest, arms, or legs. They may sometimes appear on the buttocks. Athlete’s foot is another type of fungal infection. It is rare in children. Symptoms include itchy, sometimes painful lesions between the toes and the bottom or sides of the feet.

In young children, fungal skin infections may be caused by contact with an animal or person who has a fungal infection. Young children with weakened immune systems or who have been on antibiotic therapy get fungal infections more easily. Sometimes a sample or scrapings are taken to identify the fungus in the lab.

Home Care:

Medications: Because fungal infections stay on the outer layer of the skin, they are easily treated with an antifungal cream or ointment. Fungal infection on the scalp usually requires treatment with an oral antifungal medication. Follow the doctor’s instructions when using these medications. For affected diaper areas, the doctor may suggest using cornstarch to keep the skin dry or petroleum jelly to provide a barrier. Avoid using talcum powder; it can be harmful to the lungs.

General Care:

  • Expose slightly irritated skin to the air so that it dries completely. Do not use a hair dryer because the heat may burn the skin. Carefully dry the feet and between the toes after bathing.

  • Dress your child in loose cotton clothing.

  • Try to prevent your child from scratching the affected area. Scratching will delay healing and may spread the infection. It can also cause a secondary bacterial infection (see signs below). “Scratch mittens” that cover your baby’s hands may be helpful.

  • For fungal infections around the diaper area, keep your child’s skin dry by frequently changing wet or soiled diapers.

  • Use cold cream on a cotton ball to wipe urine off skin. Use warm water and a mild soap to clean stool off skin.

  • Avoid irritating the skin with too much washing. Use mineral oil on a cotton ball to gently remove soiled ointment. Keep unsoiled ointment on skin and reapply more after each diaper change.

  • Use superabsorbent disposable diapers to reduce skin wetness. If using cloth diapers, use overwraps that breathe; avoid rubber pants.

Follow Up

as advised by the doctor or our staff.

Special Notes To Parents:

Wash your hands well with soap and warm water before and after caring for your child to avoid spreading infection.

Get Prompt Medical Attention

if any of the following occur:

  • Fever greater than 100.4°F (38°C)

  • Signs of secondary infection, such as increasing redness or swelling, worsening pain, or foul-smelling drainage coming from the affected area