Oral thrush in babies is one of the common diseases in infants and young children. A yeast-like fungus called Candida Albicans is responsible for this infection in the mouth. It is an irritating but harmless disease that can affect adults as well. Oral thrush makes babies feel uncomfortable and also makes it difficult to eat. This yeast infection is easily treatable in children and adults. Yeast organisms can be found on different body parts and most of the times show no noticeable symptoms. Oral thrush symptoms begin to appear when the level of infection is too high for the immune system to cope with.

Yeast usually grows in warm and moist places such as the mouth and under the skin. You can find yeast in diaper rashes as well. Oral thrush symptoms in newborns usually appear at birth and sometimes soon after the birth. Nipples of a breastfeeding mother can also get affected. Similarly, when the nipples of the mother are infected, the mother can pass on this disease to the baby. Not all infants develop oral thrush symptoms.                    

Causes of Oral Thrush in Babies

There is already a small amount of Candida Albicans living in our mouth. Our immune system keeps the Candida fungus in check. However, babies do not have a fully developed immune system. A weak immune system cannot stop this infection from growing which causes lesions and sores in the mouth. Lesions are developed on the tongue as well.

Sometimes,antibiotics can adversely affect the healthy and good bacteria in the mouth.This provides Candida Albicans with the environment required for rapid growth.Therefore, treatment with antibiotics can also cause oral thrush in babies. 

Oral Thrush Symptoms In Babies

Following are the oral thrush symptoms in babies:

  • White lesions in the mouth usually inside cheeks, on the roof of the mouth, tonsils and gums
  • Red tissues under the white patches bleeding very easily
  • Redness and soreness around the white patches leading to eating difficulties
  • Pain and irritation in white lesions
  • Redness and cracks appearing at the corners of the mouth
  • White patches that you cannot wipe away
  • Changes in the sense of taste

A breastfeeding mother should also be aware of the signs and symptoms of yeast infection known as breast and nipple thrush. A mother with infected nipples can look for the following symptoms:

  •  Itchy, red and cracked nipples
  • Flaky skin on the areola
  • Stabbing pain in the breast
  • Pain during nursing
  • Pain in nipples between feedings
  • Changes in areolas or nipples colors

Risk Factors and Complications

Risk of thrush in mouth is high due to following factors:

Weak Immune System

The immune system of kids is not mature enough which increases the risk of oral thrush. Similarly, adults with the weak immune system are also likely to suffer from oral thrush.

Medications

Apart from antibiotics, corticosteroids, prednisone and there are some drugs that can weaken the immune system and increase the risk of this condition.

Other Conditions and Treatments

Cancer and treatments for cancer can weaken the immune system. HIV/AIDS, diabetes and organ transplantation and drugs used for organ transplantation can also weaken the immune system and cause oral thrush in babies and adults.   

Oral Conditions

Oral conditions leading to dry mouth and wearing denture can also cause oral thrush.   

Diagnosis and Treatment for Oral Thrush in Babies

The doctor diagnoses oral thrush in babies by looking for the signs of lesions.

The doctor can also take some samples of lesions and test the sample under a microscope to find the signs of Candida.

Oral thrush is most likely to disappear in a fortnight. However, parents should keep an eye on the lesions in the mouth.

If oral thrust symptoms persist then see a pediatrician. The pediatrician will prescribe a mild antifungal medication for oral thrush treatment. The breastfeeding mother of a baby with oral thrush should see a doctor as mother and the baby can pass on this condition to each other.  

Prevention

If a mother-to-be notices white discharge from the vagina which often accompanies itching, this might be a yeast infection. She should see a doctor as she can pass on this infection to the baby during delivery. If a breastfeeding mother notices the symptoms of breast and nipple thrush then too she should see a doctor for treatment. The doctor will examine nipples for yeast infection.

Candida is often prevalent on bottle nipples and pacifiers, latex pacifiers in particular.Clean and sterilize if you are using pacifiers and bottle nipples.        

Questions the Pediatrician Will Ask?

When was the first time you noticed the symptoms of oral thrush in the baby?

Is the baby given any antibiotics?

Is the baby suffering from some other health condition?

Have you noticed some other new symptoms?

Natural Remedies for Oral Thrush

Home remedies for oral thrush greatly depend on the age of the baby. Yogurt is a good source of lactobacilli which provides and promotes good bacteria. Coconut oil, tea tree oil, gentian violet and grapefruit seed extract are also effective natural remedies for oral thrush. If the pediatrician suggests, you can use baking soda as well. Grapefruit seed extract might contain some substance that can be unsafe. Parents should discuss these home remedies with pediatrician especially when they are giving these home remedies to infants.

Thrush in mouth is perfectly treatable. Parents should not ignore thrush symptoms as mother and baby can pass on this infection to each other. If a breastfeeding mother experiences thrush symptoms, she should seek medical help for breast and nipple thrush treatment.

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