Thursday, February 25, 2016

Oral Thrush in Babies : Causes, Prevention and Treatment

Oral Thrush is most common in infants, toddlers and babies of two months and younger, but older babies can also suffer from it. The symptoms will be a white coating or white spots or patches in and around your baby’s mouth, just like of cheese or yogurt. These patches may appear on the tongue, gums, inside cheeks and may be inside the throat. (treatment for oral thrush in adults)

Thrush can cause nappy rash if it passes through your baby's digestive system to her bottom.

What is it? What Causes Thrush in Babies?

Thrush in Baby's Mouth
Thrush in Baby's Mouth
Thrush infection occurs because the levels of candida albicans fungus in your baby's mouth have increased uncontrolled. (Treatment of vaginal thrush)
  1. This fungus can increase if the baby has weak immune system. You as a mother can also pass candida to your baby through breastfeeding if you have vaginal yeast infection. A pregnant women having vaginal yeast infection can pass the infection to the new born baby during delivery.
  2. If you are breastfeeding and take antibiotics which kill “good” bacteria, encouraging yeast buildup in you that you can pass to your baby.
  3. How do you know that it is thrush to your baby?
  4. The first symptom of your baby having oral thrush is baby not sucking properly. If your baby starts crying when breastfeeding or sucking a bottle, you may suspect an oral thrush to your baby. He may refuse to nurse at all. Look in the mouth of the baby, if you notice a white coating on your baby's tongue, and it does not clean by removing with a finger. If it goes away and you see a rough red area underneath, that shows the presence of thrush. 

What can you do to Prevent Thrush in your baby?

Prevention is better than cure. There are preventive measures to protect your baby from getting oral thrush.
  1. Sterilize all the toys, feeding bottles and other items that go into baby's mouth. Keep such objects for 20 minutes in boiling water with some vinegar added to it. Repeat daily. This is very effective to cure the thrush.
  2. Wash the baby’s clothes at 60 C temperature to kill all fungi.
  3. If you are a breastfeeding mother, then wash your nipples with water and keep them dry at all times. (Read below for treatment for yeast on mother's nipple.)

Thrush Symptoms in Mothers

  1. Severe itching and burning pain on the nipples, however, the nipples may look normal.
  2. A dark pink nipple.
  3. Tiny blishters on the nippple.
  4. Feeling of pain inside the breast. 
  5. Pain during the feeding.
  6. A reduced milk supply. 

How to Treat Thrush in Babies and Mothers

Both the mother and infant should be treated for thrush together to prevent a cycle of infection and reinfection. There are a number of treatment options and preventative measures as given below:

Yeast on Mother's Nipples

  1. Rinse the nipples with a solution of one cup of water plus one teaspoon of vinegar or baking soda after every feeding. This is very effective in curing the yeast.
  2. Keep the nipples dry at all times.
  3. Apply antifungal creams containing clotrimazole or miconazole after each feeding. The cream need not to be removed before baby feeding. However, remove any extra cream on the nipples and areola with a warm cloth before feeding.
  4. Numb the sore nipple with a ice pack before beginning to nurse.
  5. Nurse frequently for shorter time so that baby and you can get rest from pain.
  6. If it becomes difficult to nurse due to severe pain, you may pump your milk and feed it to your baby until the pain lessens.
  7. Wash hands with soap and warm water before and after nursing, after changing the baby’s diaper.
  8. Take a pain killer.
  9. Eat probiotics like yogurt with Lactobacillus acidophilus or take probiotic supplements to cure thrush.
  10. Drink green tea 3 - 4 times a day to help cleanse your system of excess yeast.
  11. Reduce intake of foods containing too much sugar; and beer, wine, sodas, bread, desserts, etc. which contain yeast.

Treatment For Babies

Thrush at Baby's Bottom
Thrush at Baby's Bottom
Yeast on Baby's Bottom

You can use on the baby’s bottom the same antifungal cream which you use on your nipples, with the advise of Doctor.
Wash the baby’s bottom with soap after each diaper change. The commercial baby wipes  keeps the skin moist, so avoid them.
Keep the baby's bottom in open (if possible) to expose it to air to keep it dry.

Yeast on Baby’s Mouth

The yeast may feed on the milk that remains in the baby’s mouth. So after each feed wipe the inside of the mouth with a damp cloth.
Continue using the medication for at least 2 weeks after symptoms are gone.


  1. Bodey, Andriole V., in Systemic Antifungal Therapy, Scientific Therapeutics Information, 1994
  2. Hale, Thomas, Clinical Therapy in Breastfeeding Patients, 1st edition, Pharmasoft Medical Publishing, 1999
  3. Hancock KF and Spangler AK, Journal of Human Lactation, Vol.9, #3,1994. Human Sciences Press, Inc. New York, 179-180
  4. Amir L, Hoover KL and Mulford CA, Candidiasis and Breastfeeding (Unit 18), Lactation Consultant Series, New York,  Avery Publishing Group, Inc, 1995
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