Thrush is an oral yeast infection caused by a Candida fungus. This fungus exists in and around most of us, however, usually only in small amounts.  It doesn’t usually cause any symptoms and humans and Candida can coexist happily. For some people, however, Candida populations overgrow and cause infections. 

Thrush is an oral Candida (Oropharyngeal candidiasis) infection that is most common in infants and toddlers.  In some rare cases, adults can also get thrush.  Adults with thrush typically have weakened immunity due to cancer, HIV, or other such infection.  However, thrush is a minor problem in healthy people and is easily cleared with antifungal medications. 

Thrush Signs & Symptoms

  • White/yellow patches in the mouth and on the lips 
  • Pain during swallowing 
  • Mouth pain
  • Cottonmouth
  • Redness in the mouth
  • Loss of taste
  • Fever, in more severe infections

Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding infants typically have a higher chance of developing thrush.  Moms who are taking antibiotics may develop a yeast infection of the nipples.  They can often give that yeast infection to their infant while breastfeeding. Alternatively, moms have a higher chance of developing yeast infections of the nipples from babies with thrush.  These infections can be challenging to treat as mom and baby pass the infection back and forth. Feeding troubles can lead to irritable babies, and thus, irritable moms. It is important that Mom and baby are both treated for their infections at the same time. 

If you are having trouble getting past recurrent yeast infections, you may benefit from a lactation consultation.  Contact your healthcare provider or insurance member services for more information on how you can get the services you need.

Prevention

For recurrent thrush infections, practice preventative measures to avoid infections.  

  • Be sure to throw out any pacifiers or reused oral objects.  
  • Keep skin clean and dry. 
  • Boost their immunity.  
  • Avoid contact with the saliva of someone with thrush. If you are spending a lot of time with someone who has thrush, it is important to continually wash your hands. 
  • When taking antibiotics, it is important to try and reestablish a healthy bacterial biota in your body.  Be sure to eat prebiotic and probiotic foods in order to boost a healthy flora.  

Treatment

Treatment of Candida infections involves taking an antifungal drug.  Examples of antifungals used for thrush include nystatin, clotrimazole, fluconazole, and itraconazole. Your pediatric healthcare provider will be able to find the right medication for your child.  Antifungals are usually prescribed for 10 to 14 days, and it is important that you take the full amount prescribed, even if symptoms have begun to clear. Stopping antibiotics or antifungals too early can result in drug-resistant bugs. For any hospital stays, these medications can be administered intravenously.  Once your child begins treatment with an antifungal medication, their infection should improve within 2 weeks. If it does not, it is important that you contact your pediatric healthcare provider. 

Home Remedies for Thrush

It is important that you take your antifungal medications in addition to using home remedies to decrease symptoms.  For infants too young for swishing, you can use a washcloth to clean inside the mouth with the salt and water solution.  In addition, breastfeeding moms eating probiotics and nutrients will pass them to their infant through breast milk. 

  • Rinse with saltwater or baking soda.  Swish with a solution of ¼ tsp salt or baking soda in ½ cup water. Do not swallow.  
  • Rinse with lemon juice or apple cider vinegar.  Try half of a lemon or 1 tsp of apple cider vinegar with “The Mother” with one cup of water.  You can either drink the solution or rinse with it. 
  • Eat prebiotic and probiotic foods. Eating yogurt is an easy option for picky eaters.  Cold yogurt can help to soothe sore mouths, as well. Choose a low-sugar option, as we know that yeast likes to eat sugar.  Probiotic supplements may also be helpful. 
  • Eat turmeric.  You can add turmeric to your foods, or purchase turmeric additives or supplements.  You can make golden milk with ¼ tsp turmeric, a pinch of black pepper and a cup of milk.  We at GHT prefer alternative milk options, though you can choose what you like best. Do not give turmeric to your infant. 
  • Apply a natural antifungal to mouth sores with a cotton swab.  Examples of antifungal solutions include Gentian violet, clove oil, oregano oil.  Clove oil helps to numb the area as well. Whenever using essential oils, it is important that you always dilute the oil with a carrier oil before applying topically.  
  • Boost your immunity.  Eat foods with extra vitamin C or take a supplement to make sure you are getting enough nutrients.

When Candida Infections Go Wrong

Recurrent thrush infections can be an indication of an immunity problem, as with HIV infection, cancer, or other such conditions.  Newborns can also receive a Candida infection from their mothers during childbirth.  As soon as a Candida infection enters the bloodstream, the infection can spread throughout the body.  This condition is most common in newborns, in-patient hospital stays, and those with weakened immune systems. 

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