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    Baby's Mouth Thrush: Symptoms, Causes & Treatment

    Baby Care

    Baby's Mouth Thrush: Symptoms, Causes & Treatment

    Updated on 3 November 2023

    Thrush is a fungal infection of the mouth that can occur in babies. It's characterized by white, raised patches on the tongue and inside of the cheeks. Baby’s mouth thrush can be painful and make it difficult for them to feed. This blog features the common causes and symptoms of newborn mouth thrush, its diagnosis, and the treatment options available.

    Read ahead to learn more!

    What symptoms and signs indicate oral thrush?

    When it comes to oral thrush in babies, there are a few key symptoms and signs to look out for. Perhaps the most obvious is a white, fuzzy film on the baby's tongue and inside of its mouth. This film can also be accompanied by redness, soreness, and a loss of appetite. In some cases, babies may also experience difficulty breastfeeding. Other symptoms of baby’s mouth thrush include:

    • White patches in the roof of the mouth, tongue, and inside cheeks

    • The coating may also be patchy or have a cottage cheese-like appearance

    • Redness and soreness around the patches

    • Cracked mouth corners in some cases

    • Painful white lesions

    • Bleeding from the lesions (in severe cases)

    If the parents suspect that their baby has oral thrush, it's important to seek medical attention. While it's not a serious condition, oral thrush can be uncomfortable for the little one, and if left untreated, it can lead to other problems.

    What causes oral thrush?

    The most common cause of newborn oral thrush is Candida albicans fungus. This fungus is often present in the mouth, but it doesn't usually cause problems. However, certain circumstances can allow the fungus to grow uncontrollably. The top causes of oral thrush in babies are:

    1. Antibiotics

    Babies who have received antibiotic treatment often develop oral thrush. This is because antibiotics kill the helpful bacteria that keep the Candida fungus in check. This allows the fungus to grow and cause an infection.

    2. Dirty pacifiers or bottles

    Bacteria and other organisms can build up on pacifiers and baby bottles. If these items are not cleaned properly, they can introduce the Candida fungus to the mouth causing thrush in the baby’s mouth.

    3. Weakened immune system

    A weakened immune system is the most common cause of thrush in a baby’s mouth. Since newborns have a weak immune system it makes them more susceptible to such yeast infections.

    4. Contact with someone who has thrush

    Babies can develop thrush if they come in contact with someone who has the infection. This also includes the breastfeeding mother, if her nipple is affected it can lead to thrush in the baby’s mouth.

    Tests and exams

    Thrush is usually diagnosed based on the symptoms. The doctor will look at the symptoms in the baby’s mouth to diagnose it. In some cases, the doctor may also do a swab of the mouth to look at it under the microscope. The sample may also be cultured to confirm the presence of Candida fungus.

    Outlook (Prognosis)

    Thrush in babies is one of the most common oral infections. The condition is not life-threatening however it can be really painful and uncomfortable for the baby. It can also cause trouble in feeding. The prognosis of oral thrush in babies is generally good. The infection usually clears up in a week or two without any medication. However, in cases where the infection doesn't seem to be clearing up on its own, with the right medication it clears up in around 10 days.

    Treatment for oral thrush

    Oral thrush is a fungal infection and is commonly seen in babies. The good news is that there are several treatment options available for newborn oral thrush. The most common is a course of antifungal medication, which can be given in the form of a gel, lozenge, or pill. In more severe cases, the antifungal medication may need to be given intravenously. In most cases, oral thrush clears up within a week or two with treatment. If the baby is older, the doctor may also recommend adding probiotics to the baby's diet. As the good bacteria in the probiotics will help clear up the fungal infection quicker.

    Is it possible to prevent oral thrush?

    Here are some general tips to help prevent oral thrush in babies:

    • Wash and sterilize the baby’s pacifier, and feeding bottle regularly as the fungus is highly contagious.

    • Always refrigerate the breast milk in case of using a breast pump to avoid the growth of yeast in the milk.

    • Wash the baby’s clothes and towels regularly.

    • Ensure that the breasts are dry after nursing the baby and avoid using plastic-backed disposable nursing pads.

    When to see a doctor?

    If the symptoms of the baby’s mouth thrush are not clearing up after a week of using mouth gel and the baby has recurring episodes of oral thrush it is important to get checked with the doctor. The doctor will help with the appropriate treatment plan based on the baby’s condition and the severity of its symptoms.

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    Written by

    Parul Sachdeva

    A globetrotter and a blogger by passion, Parul loves writing content. She has done M.Phil. in Journalism and Mass Communication and worked for more than 25 clients across Globe with a 100% job success rate. She has been associated with websites pertaining to parenting, travel, food, health & fitness and has also created SEO rich content for a variety of topics.

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