Thrush – also known as a yeast infection caused by Candida albicans – is a fungal infection that is very common in newborn babies. The good news is that it is not a dangerous infection for your baby (it just might be a bit uncomfortable for some) and it’s often very simple to treat.
What are the signs and symptoms?
The most common symptom of thrush is white patches that look like milk residue inside your baby’s mouth, especially on the tongue, gums, on the roof of the mouth and/or the inside of the cheeks.
Though it mostly appears in the mouth of a newborn, it also can show up on other parts of your baby’s body that are often warm and moist, such as the nappy area or in skin creases.
Thrush can be a problem for breastfeeding moms because the infection can spread between your baby’s mouth to your nipples and vice versa. Thrush of the nipples can cause them to become sore, itchy or have a burning sensation, which of course turns this magical bonding experience into a painful and uncomfortable one. In this case, it is best to bottle-feed until the infection is treated.
What causes thrush?
Small amounts of Candida albicans are naturally found in the gastrointestinal tract and mouth in most healthy adults. If it becomes overgrown it turns into a yeast infection, which can be very uncomfortable, and, if left untreated, can cause more serious problems. Usually your immune system keeps fungal issues in check, but a newborn baby’s immune system has not matured yet, so it’s more susceptible to fungal infections.
How to treat thrush
Oral thrush usually disappears on its own within two weeks, but if the infection is causing you and/or your baby pain or excess discomfort, don’t hesitate to seek advice from your doctor, midwife or paediatrician so that they can prescribe the right medication.
Thrush medication for babies usually comes in the form of drops or gel that can be easily applied to the affected areas. For moms experiencing thrush of the nipples, this should be treated at the same time to avoid continuing the cycle of infection from mouth to nipple.
Thrush is something that most often looks a lot scarier than it is, but as always, trust your parental instincts and consult your doctor, midwife or paediatrician if you have any concerns.