Thrush in Babies. The Key Facts to Know.

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Dr. Sandro Cantoni. Pediatrician.

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Thrush is a common infection in babies. It’s a yeast infection that affects the mouth and throat. The good news is that it’s simple to treat, and most babies will make a full recovery. In this post, we’ll share the key facts about thrush in babies, including what causes it, how to spot the symptoms, and how to treat it. We hope you find this information helpful!

What causes thrush in the baby’s mouth?

Thrush is a fungal infection that causes a white coating on the tongue and inside of the mouth. It can be caused by a number of different fungi, but the most common is Candida albicans. Thrush is more common in babies than adults and can be caused by a number of factors, including:

-Having a weakened immune system.

-Babies who are born prematurely.

-Taking antibiotics for a long period of time.

-contamination with a bottle or pacifier not sterilized.

-candida on the skin of the mother’s breast or hands.

-at the time of delivery, when the baby passed through the birth canal of a woman with a yeast infection.

What are the symptoms of thrush in babies?

The most common symptom of thrush in newborns is an abnormal white or gray coating on the tongue and inside the mouth (gingiva, palate, lips), before and after eating.

Other possible symptoms are:

-difficulty eating and drinking because of the pain.

-Redness and inflammation of the mouth and tongue.

-Drooling.

-A cheesy, lumpy discharge from the mouth.

-Loss of appetite.

-Weight loss.

There is a difference between thrush and milk residue on the tongue. Thrush is a type of fungus, while milk residue is just that- residue from milk. Thrush can make it hard for a baby to eat or drink because of the pain, while milk residue will not cause any pain and can easily be wiped away.

How to cure thrush in babies mouth?

There are a few methods that can be used to cure thrush in babies’ mouths. One way is to use gentian violet, which is a purple dye that is put into the baby’s mouth. The dye will help to kill the fungus that is causing the thrush.

Another way to cure thrush is to use local Nystatin, or another similar drug, which is a prescription medication that is used to treat fungus infections. Nystatin comes in the form of a liquid or gel, and it is placed in the baby’s mouth four times a day.

In breastfed babies is important to treat also the mother, because fungus can be transmitted from the breast skin to the baby. Treatment of the mother usually involves applying Nystatin to the nipples four times a day.

In the case of recurrent infections, a doctor may prescribe an antifungal medication to be taken by the baby and eventually the mother, such as fluconazole.

When should you call a doctor if you think your baby has thrush?

Note that thrush almost always improves within two weeks of treatment. If the baby is not improving or the symptoms worsen, it is important to talk with a doctor. Especially if your baby presents difficulty eating and drinking.

You should also call a doctor if you see any of the following symptoms:

-Fever.

-Severe diaper rash.

-The baby is not gaining weight or losing weight.

-The baby has swollen glands in the neck or jaw.

-There is a yellow, green, or white discharge from the nose or mouth.

-The baby has redness and swelling in the mouth that lasts for more than a week.

-The baby has a rash on the skin.

Can thrush be prevented in babies?

You can try to prevent, or reduce, thrush in babies by doing a few things. One way is to make sure that the baby does not take antibiotics for a long period of time. An only if it’s indicated. Thrush can also be prevented by making sure the baby’s bottle or pacifier is sterilized, and that the mother does not have a yeast infection on her skin. Finally, especially in babies with recurrent infections, it is important to keep the baby’s mouth clean and free of fungus. This can be done by wiping the mouth with a damp cloth after every feeding.

Conclusion

Thrush is a common infection in babies. It’s a yeast infection that affects the mouth and throat. Thrush can be caused by a number of factors, including taking antibiotics for a long period of time, candida on the skin of the mother’s breast or hands. The most common symptom of thrush in newborns is an abnormal white or gray coating on the tongue and inside the mouth. A way to cure thrush is to use local Nystatin which can be placed in the baby’s mouth four times per day.

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About the author

Hi. My name is Sandro Cantoni. I’m a Pediatrician. I work in the General Pediatric Clinic. Hospital of Neuchatel, Switzerland.

References

Vainionpää A, Tuomi J, Kantola S, Anttonen V. Neonatal thrush of newborns: Oral candidiasis?. Clin Exp Dent Res. 2019;5(5):580-582. Published 2019 Jul 21. doi:10.1002/cre2.213

David M. Krol, Martha Ann Keels; Oral Conditions. Pediatr Rev January 2007; 28 (1): 15–22.

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