Infant Thrush: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments

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Catherine Le Nevez
@catherinelenevez
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Contents

  • 1 What is thrush
  • 2 Who is prone to thrush
  • 3 Symptoms of thrush in infants
  • 4 Diagnosis of thrush 
  • 5 Thrush and breastfeeding
  • 6 Treatment of thrush

Have you ever found a white film on your baby's tongue or mouth? Sometimes it is a very simple residue of milk. On the other hand, if you try to remove the whitish layer, the mucous membrane appears red. In this second case it could be thrush, a mycosis that should not worry, but which should not be underestimated. The affected child has discomfort when eating, so this could become a problem in the long run. So let's see how to recognize it and what to do. 



What is thrush

It is a contagious disease of the mucous membranes of the oral cavity. The most common cause is a fungus, called Candida albicans and in fact it is called oral candidiasis. It presents with small white plaques that tend to merge with each other and appear on the tongue, cheeks, gums and palate. They look like milk clots the size of a lentil, but are not easily removed. If successful, the mucous membrane remains red and may even bleed. 

Candida albicans normally lives in the mouth and vagina. In the absence of particular conditions it does not cause any discomfort, just like many other potentially pathogenic microorganisms with which each of us normally lives. However, if the body's balance is changed (for example due to a disease, prolonged intake of antibiotics or hormonal changes during pregnancy), the fungus grows and infection occurs. 

Who is prone to thrush

It is a fairly common disorder, especially between 2 and 4 months of life. Any infant can be affected, but it is somewhat more common in premature babies, who have a more fragile immune system. If a woman has vaginal candidiasis, it often occurs during natural childbirth. In addition, they are infants and children with gastrointestinal and nutrition disorders, children with immune diseases or who have taken antibiotics for long periods.



Thrush can also be taken more than once. That is, we do not remain immunized. When it occurs with a certain frequency, it is advisable to point it out to the pediatrician who will probably suggest doing some analysis.

Symptoms of thrush in infants

Sometimes there are no particular symptoms, apart of course the white patina inside the mouth. Often, however, the baby eats little, complains and cries while sucking from the breast or bottle, appears nervous. The burning can be so intense that it hinders normal nutrition and, in a newborn, this can be very dangerous. This is why if you suspect thrush you should contact your pediatrician.

Thrush Diagnosis 

The doctor's careful eye will suffice to diagnose oral candidiasis. If he deems it necessary, he can prescribe a culture test (ie a small sample of mucosa) to identify with certainty the pathogen responsible for the disorder. 

Thrush and breastfeeding

A nursing mom can contract thrush in the breast. The nipples appear shiny, deep pink in color, sometimes they are peeled. In this situation, the attack and the sucking cause a very intense pain. Breastfeeding should not be interrupted, even if it is painful. The important thing is that both the mother and the little one treat the infection well, otherwise they will continue to pass it on to each other. 


Treatment of thrush

Therapy involves the application of an antifungal drug. The active ingredient that is generally used is miconazole, administered as an oral gel for newborns. It may be useful to carry out washing of water and bicarbonate with sterile gauze to clean the mucous membranes. The treatment must also be followed scrupulously by the nursing mother. The duration depends on the extent of the infection. 


There are also rules to be implemented regarding, for example, pacifiers and teats: they must be sterilized very well before using them. Wash your hands thoroughly before and after changing the diaper: the genitals are at high risk of contagion and it is best to try to prevent it. 

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