Recently a client contacted me requesting information on infant oral thrush. Below find information describing the infection and discussing treatments. Depending upon the age of your baby, it is possible your pediatrician will suggest just letting it run it’s course. Be aware that if your baby contracts this yeast infection, and you are breastfeeding, you may have symptoms too. Just as with sexual partners, yeast infections are highly contagious.
Note that the second website provides a photo of the thrush infection.
I sincerely you do not have to deal with this. It is easily treated, but certainly no fun!
Oral thrush is a very common infection in infants that causes irritation in and around a baby’s mouth. It is caused by the overgrowth of a yeast (a type of fungus) called Candida albicans. Most people (including infants) naturally have Candida in their mouths and digestive tracts, which is considered normal growth.
Oral Thrush In Babies: Causes, Symptoms and Treatments
(this website includes a photo of infant thrush)
My baby has white patches on the insides of her cheeks. What could this be?
It could be a common and harmless yeast infection known as thrush. Thrush looks like cottage cheese or milk curds on the sides, roof, and sometimes the tongue of a baby’s mouth. It’s most common in babies 2 months and younger, but it can appear in older babies, too.
What causes thrush?
© Dr P. Marazzi / Science Source
Yeast is a normal part of everyone’s digestive system, but when there’s an imbalance, an infection sets in. Most infants first come in contact with yeast as they travel down the birth canal. Thrush can develop when hormonal changes right after birth trigger an overgrowth of yeast in your baby’s mouth.
After your baby is born, antibiotics taken by you (if you’re breastfeeding) or your baby can trigger a case of thrush. That’s because antibiotics kill off “good” bacteria that keep yeast in check.
Some moms and babies pass the infection back and forth: Your baby canpass thrush on to you if you’re breastfeeding, resulting in a painful yeast infection on your nipples that will need a doctor’s treatment. And you can trigger a case of thrush in your baby if you’re breastfeeding and you develop a yeast infection on your nipples from taking antibiotics. On the other hand, some moms remain uninfected even while breastfeeding babies who have thrush — and some breastfed babies are not affected by their mother’s yeast infection.
Some people think thrush can also be caused by prolonged sucking on a bottle or pacifier. Others think poor hygiene of bottle nipples is to blame. But infants who breastfeed exclusively and don’t use pacifiers can also get it, so it’s hard to pinpoint any one cause. Some babies (and some moms) are simply more susceptible than others to yeast.
How can I know for sure that it’s thrush?
If you think your baby has thrush, look for the characteristic white patches. Then gently touch a patch with a gauze-covered finger. If it is thrush, it probably won’t come off very easily, but if it does, you’ll find a raw, red area underneath that may bleed.
If you notice a white coating on your baby’s tongue but nowhere else, it’s probably just milk residue (especially if you can wipe it off). Thrush patches can appear on your baby’s tongue, but are most often found on the sides of the mouth. These spots can be painful — you may first suspect thrush if your baby starts crying when nursing or sucking on a pacifier or bottle.