Thrush is a yeast or fungal infection in the mouth and throat of babies. It often occurs in babies younger than 5 months old. Thrush is usually caused by a type of yeast called Candida albicans. Babies can get thrush from their mothers, for example during delivery. The yeast is common in the everyday environment. It only causes a problem when it grows out of control. This can happen in warm, moist places.
Thrush causes cracked skin in the corners of the mouth. It also causes white patches on the tongue, lips, and inside of the cheeks. The patches may look like milk. Some babies have no discomfort from thrush. Others may have pain and be fussy and refuse to feed. It may be painful for your child to swallow.
Your child’s health care provider will ask about your child’s medical history and do a physical exam. The exam will include looking in the mouth. The health care provider may do a culture of the white patches. A culture is a simple test done with a cotton swab. It’s done to find out what the exact cause is. This can help in choosing the right treatment.
Thrush is treated with liquid antifungal medicine given through a dropper in the baby’s mouth.
If you are breastfeeding a baby who has oral thrush, you may have a mild yeast infection of the nipples. You will need to be treated for this. This will prevent you from passing the thrush infection back to your baby. You may be given an ointment to apply to your skin, or an oral anti-fungal medication.
Wash your hands with warm water and soap before and after taking care of your baby. This is to help avoid spreading the infection.