What is oral thrush in children?

Oral Thrush in Children

Thrush in children: Overview

Thrush is a yeast infection inside the mouth. It can look like white patches of milk, formula, or cottage cheese. But it is hard to remove. If you scrape the thrush away, the skin underneath may bleed. Your child might get thrush after using antibiotics. Often there is not a specific cause. It sometimes occurs at the same time as a diaper rash.

Thrush in infants and young children isn't a serious problem. It usually goes away on its own. Some children may need antifungal medicine.

What are the symptoms of thrush in a baby?

The most common symptoms of thrush are white patches that stick to the inside of the mouth and tongue. They look like cottage cheese or milk curds. Some babies with thrush may be cranky and may not want to eat.

How is thrush in a baby treated?

In babies, thrush is usually treated with prescribed antifungal medicine such as nystatin liquid. In most cases, you will put the medicine directly on the white patches. The yeast can cause a diaper rash at the same time as thrush. Your doctor may prescribe nystatin cream or ointment for your baby's diaper area.

Preventing thrush in babies

Here are some tips for how to help prevent thrush in infants.

  • Treat vaginal yeast infections, especially during the last 3 months of pregnancy.

    This will decrease your baby's risk of getting thrush during delivery.

  • Wash bottle nipples and pacifiers daily.

    And keep all prepared bottles and nipples in the refrigerator to decrease the likelihood of yeast growth.

  • Do not reuse a bottle more than an hour after the baby has drunk from it.

    Yeast may have had time to grow on the nipple.

  • Wash or boil all objects that the baby puts in their mouth.

    Or run them through the dishwasher.

  • Change your baby's diaper soon after it is wet.

    A wet diaper area provides a good environment for the yeast that causes thrush to grow.

  • Breastfeed your baby if possible.

    Breast milk contains antibodies that will help build your baby's natural defense system (immune system) so your baby can resist infection.

  • Contact your doctor with concerns about breastfeeding.

    If your nipples become red and sore, or you have breast pain during or after nursing, it may be a sign that a thrush infection in your baby has spread to your nipples.

If your baby needs medicine to treat thrush, don't put the medicine dropper in the baby's mouth. Drop the medicine on a cotton swab and swab it on the affected area. Throw away the swab, and don't put anything back into the medicine bottle that could be contaminated with the yeast.

How is thrush diagnosed?

In most cases, doctors can diagnose thrush just by looking at the white patches. The doctor will also ask you questions about your or your child's health. If your doctor thinks that another health problem, such as diabetes, may be related to thrush, you may also be tested for that condition.

How can you care for your baby who has thrush?

Clean pacifiers, toys, and other items that your baby may put in their mouth. Boil the items or wash them in warm, soapy water. After you breastfeed, dry your nipples and apply lanolin lotion. Your doctor may also prescribe a medicine that you can put on your nipples.

What is thrush?

Thrush is a yeast infection that causes white patches in the mouth and on the tongue. Thrush is most common in babies and in older adults with certain health problems, but it can occur at any age. Thrush in babies usually isn't serious.

Thrush in children: When to call

Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • Your child will not eat or drink.
  • You have trouble giving or applying the medicine to your child.
  • Your child still has thrush after 7 days.
  • Your child gets a new diaper rash.
  • Your child is not acting normally.
  • Your child has a fever.

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