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Thrush in Babies: Causes & Symptoms Explained

thrush can be uncomfortable for your baby

If you notice a white-like residue on your newborn, it could be thrush. While thrush often doesn't cause trouble, it can grow out of control. As a parent, you want to know about this condition and how you can treat it. Here are a couple of things to know about thrush, its symptoms, and how to treat it effectively. 

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What Is Thrush?

Thrush is called candida albicanis, and it is a white yeast-like fungus. You can find the yeast on any part of your baby's body. In some cases, thrush can become out of control, making your baby feel miserable. When there is an overgrowth, you will see white patches in your baby's mouth. It can even form in the diaper area. Some moms have reported that thrush has developed on their nipples after breastfeeding. 

Thrush is similar to the fungus from a vaginal yeast infection. That same yeast is responsible for itching and burning and can cause the same effects on a baby. Fortunately, you can quickly treat thrush

Related: Why Do Babies Smile In Their Sleep? 

What Causes Thrush in Babies?

Thrush can appear in your baby's mouth during the first few weeks of life. Unfortunately, there are no exact reasons why it develops. Some researchers believe that newborns have weaker immune systems and can't fight off those infections.  

Another possible cause is that new moms might have had a vaginal yeast infection based on hormonal changes. That fungus could have been passed on to the newborn when the baby was delivered. 

thrush can clear up in a few days

Thrush Symptoms in Babies

When you look into your baby's mouth, you will immediately spot the symptoms. If there are any white patches or sores on the gums, tongue, or inside of the mouth, that is a telltale sign of thrush. Those cracked corners of the mouth are also associated with thrush. Keep in mind that a baby's tongue could have a white residue from milk. Any milky tinge should disappear within an hour of feeding. If the residue sticks around, it could be a thrush. 

You can perform a simple test: take a piece of gauze and wipe away the milky residue. If it stays around, it can be a sign of thrush. A sore and red tongue is another symptom. When any of these samples are present, it is time to treat thrush. 

Related: What Causes Ear Infections In Babies?

Thrush Treatment

Now that you know the symptoms, it is time to treat the thrush. Here are a few ways to clear up this yeast. 

Medical Treatment

If your baby has oral thrush, the doctor will prescribe antifungal medication, usually in the form of a gel or drops. This medicine contains nystatin, and you will have to spread it in the baby's mouth at least a few times per day. 

Over-the-Counter Treatment

For thrush in the scalp or diaper area, you might be able to use over-the-counter remedies, like an antifungal cream. However, you always want to check with your doctor before using any medicine on your baby. 

In some cases, your medical provider might be able to suggest adding lactobacilli to the baby's diet. This probiotic bacteria acts like a "good" bacteria to help rid the fungus. 

Home Remedies

There are many home remedies for thrush, but you need to approach any of them with caution. Some parents will use baking soda and cooled water in the baby's mouth. Virgin coconut oil and tree tea oil are also touted as homemade remedies. 

Remember to always check with your medical provider before using these alternative treatments, especially if the thrush is in your baby's mouth. Whatever you put in your baby's mouth, your little one will consume those oils or powders. Your doctor will know the best way to clear up the thrush in your baby.

by being proactive, you can help prevent thrush

Thrush Prevention

Thrush can be really contagious. Since it is a dimorphic fungus, it can switch between a mold or yeast depending on the temperature. For that reason, candida can spread and survive, causing discomfort for your baby. You will want to make sure that you and the baby are treated for thrush. Otherwise, the candida can travel from your baby's mouth to your nipple, making everyone uncomfortable.

If you want to prevent thrush, there are a few things that you can do:

  • Wash your baby's toys, pacifiers, and hands.
  • Launder clothing, towels, and bras that may have come in contact with the yeast, and always wash with hot water. 
  • Keep all pumped breast milk refrigerated until you are ready to use it.
  • Never skip sterilizing the breast pump and all components.

Here are some other helpful tips:

  • Don't use disposable nursing pads with a plastic backing. 
  • Change all nursing pads when they get wet. 
  • Make sure your breasts are dry after feeding. 
  • Reduce your sugar intake. One study shows that moms with higher glucose often experienced thrush at a higher rate. However, there have been no other studies with high glucose and candida. 

Related: Babies & Heat Rash: What You Should Know

Things to keep in mind about thrush

Thrush is not serious, but it can be uncomfortable for your baby and you. You can experience shooting pains when breastfeeding the baby, and your newborn will feel miserable. If you notice any signs of thrush, make sure to reach out to your pediatrician. They will be able to treat these symptoms and help you keep this yeast from coming back. 

When you sign any signs of thrush, take a deep breath and relax. It is a common occurrence and can be treated with a few medications. After that, your baby will be happy and healthy

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