Oral thrush in infants, which is more common at about four weeks of age, may occur more than once. It usually clears by itself, but there are ways to avoid and/or treat it.
What Is Oral Thrush?
A yeast or thrush infection happens when the mother and/or the baby's natural flora and bacteria have become imbalanced.
Is Oral Thrush Contagious?
A baby with oral thrush can infect a mother during breastfeeding; this is why it is so important that the mother and the baby get treatment together, even if one of them is not showing any signs of thrush. This is to prevent reinfection.
If a mother has a yeast infection on her breasts or nipples, she could also infect her baby.
Learn more about the treatment of thrush.
Learn more about the symptoms of thrush.
The Symptoms of Oral Thrush in Babies
- Some babies with oral thrush, may not have any symptoms of oral thrush.
- Cottage cheese like substance inside and around your baby’s mouth and tongue. The patches may bleed if rubbed off. They may appear as a rash too.
- An infant with oral thrush may be uncomfortable while breastfeeding, due to pain in and around the mouth.
- Oral thrush in infants may cause a clicking sound while breastfeeding.
- A baby's thrush symptoms may include cracking at the corners of the mouth.
- Thrush in a baby may cause whitish saliva.
- Extra fussiness and irritability.
- Increased dribbling.
- Breast refusal.
- Poor weight gain.
- Nappy rash.
How Do Babies Get Thrush?
Causes of Oral Thrush in Babies
- If a mother has a vaginal thrush infection during birth, her baby may become infected when he/she passes through the birth canal.
- The use of antibiotics by the mother and/or the baby can sometimes cause an oral thrush infection.
- The baby can be infected by the mother, if she has thrush (yeast infection) on her breasts and/or nipples.
- Premature babies, unfortunately, have less mature immune systems and are, therefore, more prone to getting a thrush/yeast infection.
- Unhygienic conditions can also cause a thrush infection. The mother should clean her baby’s mouth with a disposable cloth or clean, wet finger, instead of keeping a face cloth, which can grow germs and fungus.
- Oral thrush is common in babies with diabetes, due to elevated levels of sugar in their bodies.
- Babies with HIV/Aids are more likely to get thrush infections, due to the suppression of their immune systems.
Treatment of Oral Thrush in Babies
Treatment of Oral Thrush in Baby
If the oral thrush does not clear by itself, after a week...
- Nystatin Suspension is often used to kill the fungus that causes thrush. A doctor will usually prescribe this as an oral treatment for infant thrush and as a cream for a mother's breast.
- The mother and the baby both need to be treated, so that they do not pass the thrush to one another. Using Nystatin will usually clear the oral thrush infection within two weeks.
- A thrush treatment like Miconazole is a standard treatment, that can be bought over the counter without a prescription.
Natural Treatment for Oral Thrush in Babies
- Coconut oil for thrush: You can put pure, raw, virgin coconut oil on your nipples and in your baby’s mouth to prevent passing the infection to one another. This has been found to clear some yeast from the mouth, but should be used in conjunction with other treatments.
- Gentian Violet: Can be used on the mother's breasts, and in the baby's mouth. This is the best natural cure for thrush, but it is very messy. It stains the clothing and the skin.
Prevention of Oral Thrush
How to Prevent Oral Thrush in Baby
- Sterilize all dummies or teethers.
- Sterilize all bottles and teats before use.
- Sterilize all pump parts daily.
- Use disposable wipes when cleaning your baby’s mouth.
- Rinse your breasts with clear water after breastfeeding.
If the oral thrush keeps coming back, a mother should seek the advice of her physician.