One of the more common infections your baby might experience is known as Oral Thrush. Learn more about the symptoms, causes and treatment of oral thrush in babies
Your baby may develop many different minor infections and illnesses as
they grow. While it’s always upsetting to see your little one experiencing
this, it’s good to remember that this is helping them to develop a stronger,
healthy immune system to help them grow and continue to develop.
One of the more common infections your baby might experience is known
as Oral Thrush. Most babies will experience this at some point in the early
months so it’s worth knowing what it is, what it looks like and what you can do
to help your baby.
What is Oral Thrush?
Oral thrush is a common fungal infection that can affect anyone at any
age, but is particularly common in babies and infants – usually under the age
of two. It causes irritation in and around the mouth and as a result your baby
may dribble more, so one of the first signs you might notice that your baby has
oral thrush, is a red dribble rash.
Oral thrush is caused by the overgrowth of a common yeast called Candida Albicans. Most people have
candida albicans in their mouths and digestive tracts, as it is a naturally
occurring yeast that is part of normal growth and development. Oral thrush is
not too serious, and shouldn’t cause your baby much stress.
How can I tell if my baby has
If you notice your baby dribbles more than normal and has developed a
dribble rash, it might be worth having a closer inspection in their mouth to
see whether oral thrush is the cause.
Signs that your baby has oral thrush include:
One or more white or cream coloured spots in
your babies mouth, tongue and gums
Patches of white or cream coloured areas in your
babies mouth and the inside of their cheeks
A white or cream discoloured sheen to their
Fussiness over feeding and poor weight gain
Red nappy rash – this is caused by the same
At first the white spots that indicate oral thrush can be mistaken for
bits of milk or spit-up from your baby; however you will notice that you are
unable to wash them away from your baby’s mouth easily and if you do manage to
wipe them away, your babies skin will be red and sore underneath.
Normally these spots and patches are not painful and do not bother your
baby, unless they are removed harshly and leave the skin raw and sore. If the
patches are sore or troubling your baby, this is when you are likely to notice
that they are fussy when feeding and may refuse to feed.
How is oral thrush treated?
Many mild cases of oral thrush clear up on their own within a few days
and there isn’t any need for further treatment. However, if your baby’s mouth
is sore and they are struggling to feed, it’s important to consult your doctor.
In most cases for oral thrush, your doctor will recommend you use a
medicinal anti-fungal treatment to help treat the infection and heal your baby.
There are two main medicines that your doctor is likely to recommend:
– this is a medicinal gel that you can apply to the inside of your baby’s mouth
and affected areas. Your doctor will give you instructions, but typically you
can apply a small amount of this gel up to 4 times a day, just after a feed,
with a clean finger.A small number of
babies may be sick after treatment with miconazole but this isn’t normally a
cause for concern. Always check with your doctor if your baby is repeatedly ill
and unable to keep their feed down.
your doctor might prescribe a different medicine, depending on the treatment
they decide your baby needs. Nystatin is a liquid medicine that you can apply
directly to the infected areas of your baby’s mouth using an oral dispenser.
Your doctor will advise on the dosage and how many times to administer this
medicine to your baby. There are usually no side effects with nystatin in
Using the medicine as instructed by your doctor should see the
infection clear up from your babies mouth in a few days and your doctor will
also recommend that you continue to use the medicine at least two days longer
after seeing the infection clear up, to aid your babies immune system.
What should I do if I’m
If you are breastfeeding and your baby develops oral thrush, it is
possible that they can pass the infection to you and this can affect your
nipples. Its medical term is mammary
candidosis but it is commonly referred to as ‘nipple thrush’. Symptoms you might notice if you have nipple
Sharp pain when you are breastfeeding, and after
you finish breastfeeding
Sensitive or sore nipples, with darker red
patches of skin around your nipple
Red, shiny or sore skinaround your nipple area
Burning or itching sensations in your nipples
and breasts, even between feeds
However, you might not experience any symptoms at all, even if your
baby is diagnosed with oral thrush. If you do not experience any symptoms, it’s
unlikely that your doctor will provide you with any treatment and the infection
will clear up on its own, alongside your babies.
Your doctor may prescribe you medicine to take alongside your baby’s
treatment if you are breastfeeding, so as to prevent the infection being passed
back to your baby from your nipples, and they will likely provide you with an
antifungal medicinal cream to use on your nipples if this is the case and if
you are experiencing symptoms.
If both you and your baby are having treatment, but your symptoms do
not clear up after a few days, it’s important to go back to your doctor for
How can I help prevent my baby
getting oral thrush again?
As it is so common, and a naturally occurring yeast, it can be
difficult to fully prevent your baby from having oral thrush. The first time
they have it, it will help them to develop the important immune system they
need to fight the infection in the future.
If your baby has already had oral thrush and you want to try to
minimise the chance of them getting it again, there are some simple tips you
can follow to help them:
Properly – anything your baby regularly puts in their mouth – dummies,
bottle tops, teething toys – make sure you sterilise them properly to prevent
Feed – if your nipples are red and sore, you might have an infection caused
by the yeast and be passing the infection back to your baby. Try bottle feeding
until your nipples are healed.
Water – some midwives recommend giving your baby a drink of clean water
after their milk feed as this can wash away excess milk in their mouth, which
can lead to oral thrush.
Yoghurt – depending on your baby’s age, your doctor may suggest feeding
your baby yoghurt with lactobacilli – this is a ‘good’ bacterium that might
help prevent yeast build up that can lead to oral thrush.
The most important thing to know about oral thrush in babies is that is
completely natural, and will not cause your baby any lasting side effects.
It’s always important to keep on top of infections and illnesses,
especially in babies and infants, and if you are concerned, you should consult
with your doctor or midwife immediately.
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