Check your baby’s mouth if they appear irritable or uncomfortable while eating and you suspect that your baby has thrush in their mouth.
A common fungal illness known as oral thrush can cause white patches on the tongue or anywhere else in the mouth or throat.
But, exactly, what is oral thrush? Learn more about thrush and what might cause it in your infant, how to recognize the signs, how to treat or avoid this infection, and how oral thrush may affect you if you’re nursing by reading on.
What is thrush?
Thrush is a fungal infection of the mouth that can affect anyone at any age, but it is most frequent in infants under the age of six months.
Thrush is caused by candida, a type of yeast that can reside everywhere on the body, including the mouth and digestive tract.
There’s a significant probability your child has previously been exposed to candida. It can be passed from person to person by saliva, or your baby could have picked it up while in the delivery canal if he was born vaginally.
Oral thrush, which causes uncomfortable spots in or around your baby’s mouth, can occur when the fungus develops out of control in his or her mouth.
These can be unpleasant or painful, particularly when feeding.
If you breastfeed, thrush can be passed from your baby’s mouth to your nipples, causing discomfort or suffering, especially if you’re nursing your infant.
What causes oral thrush in your baby?
Most of the time, candida isn’t a problem since your baby’s immune system and “good bacteria” keep it in check.
However, if your baby is still young, especially before the age of six months, his immune system isn’t fully established.
This “weaker” immune system might lead to candida overgrowth in your baby’s mouth, producing oral thrush.
Antibiotics, which are fantastic at battling bacterial infections, but also kill off some of those “good bacteria” at the same time, could raise your baby’s risk of thrush.
This implies that your baby’s natural defenses against candida are compromised, and the fungus can spread quickly.
Signs and symptoms of oral thrush in your baby
If you think your baby has oral thrush, make an appointment with your doctor to get a diagnosis and treatment. Here are some warning signs and symptoms to be aware of:
- Feeding issues are a problem. One of the first indicators you’ll notice is that your baby isn’t feeding as well as he usually does, or that he appears to be unhappy or in pain.
- Patches of white. These patches might form on your baby’s tongue, lips, gums, or the roof of his mouth and resemble cottage cheese. If you can’t get them to go away by wiping them away gently, your child may have oral thrush. Because these patches aren’t always visible from the outside, it’s a good idea to periodically inspect your child’s mouth.
- The skin near the corners of the mouth is cracked. Another sign of oral thrush in your newborn could be this.
- Diaper rash is a common problem. The fungus might cause diaper rash around your baby’s bottom as it is swallowed and passes out of his or her system.
- On your own body, there are telltale signs. If you’re nursing and your nipples are itchy, cracked, or irritated, or if you experience acute shooting pains in your nipples or breasts, you may have thrush. During breastfeeding, thrush can spread from your nipples to your baby’s mouth.
How to treat oral thrush in your baby
Check up with your healthcare practitioner to receive a diagnosis if you see any suspected thrush symptoms in your infant or yourself. Your healthcare professional will be able to clarify your treatment options to you.
Thrush can go away on its own after a few weeks, but your healthcare professional may recommend an antifungal medication.
Over-the-counter and home remedies
For thrush in your infant, there are a variety of over-the-counter remedies available, but always see your doctor before using any of them.
Some mothers feel that home remedies such as rinsing nipples in a vinegar and water solution or a baking soda and water solution, as well as reducing sugar, yeast, and dairy items in your diet, can assist.
These methods have not been scientifically proven to work and should only be used in conjunction with any medication recommended by your healthcare professional, not as a replacement for it.
Before utilizing any over-the-counter drugs or home cures, always consult your doctor.
If the thrush doesn’t go away after a few weeks of medication, or if it returns — especially if your baby is older than 9 months old – consult your doctor to see if there are any other health issues at play.
How to prevent oral thrush in your baby
You can take the following steps to help prevent your child from having oral thrush:
- Frequently wash your baby’s hands, especially if she sucks her thumb or fingers. Also, wash your hands frequently.
- Sterilize pacifiers, teething rings, feeding bottle nipples, and anything else that goes into your baby’s mouth on a regular basis.
- Run a hot wash cycle on any towels or garments that may have come into touch with the yeast (at least 122 degrees Fahrenheit).
- If you use a breast pump, be sure to sanitize all parts that come into touch with your breasts or breast milk after each usage.
- To avoid yeast growth, keep breast milk refrigerated until shortly before usage.
- If there’s a potential that any stored expressed breast milk has been infected with the yeast, you may need to discard it.
- Change any disposable nursing pads frequently and wear a clean bra every day to keep your breasts dry and free of potential yeast sources.
Preventing reinfection of thrush
Oral thrush in babies can be difficult to treat, especially if you’re breastfeeding, due to how contagious it is. It can pass through your nipples from you to your child and back, as well as to and from other family members if you share bedding, cups, or utensils.
This is why it’s critical to have both you and your kid (as well as anyone else in your home who has it) treated at the same time.
It’s also beneficial to take all preventive measures possible while treating a thrush infection.
If you’re breastfeeding, here’s how thrush can affect you.
Thrush, which affects both you and your kid if you’re nursing, may be a big discomfort – literally.
It’s critical to seek treatment as soon as possible, so make an appointment with your doctor for a diagnosis and treatment as soon as possible. It’s important to remember that the symptoms may not go away right immediately.
Meanwhile, specialists urge that you continue to breastfeed. Here are some suggestions to help you cope with the discomfort and keep the milk flowing:
- Shorter but more frequent feeding is a good idea. Always begin with the least painful breast.
- After each feed, rinse your nipples with clean water and air-dry them before putting them back in your bra.
- If direct breastfeeding is extremely painful due to damaged nipples, consider expressing milk and giving it to your baby in a little cup.
- An over-the-counter pain reliever could help alleviate some of the discomforts. Consult your doctor about which medications are safe to take while breastfeeding.
Sometimes it may not be thrush
Thrush isn’t the only cause of breast pain or nipple soreness. Try altering your baby’s nursing posture or getting them to latch on again if you’re experiencing intense pains in your breast during or after feeds, as well as severe pains in the nipple. This could be all that’s required to relieve the discomfort you’re experiencing.
If cold compresses or air drying aggravate your nipple or breast pain, it could be due to a blood vessel contraction in and around your nipples.
Mastitis, a bacterial infection, is another cause of breast pain.
These disorders are frequently confused with thrush, so talk to your doctor about it. He or she will be able to figure out what’s causing your discomfort.
Other reasons that your baby may not have thrush
You may be surprised to hear that your baby doesn’t have thrush if they are formula-fed. Babies can get infrequent, messy, watery green poo on the odd occasion even when they’re 100% breastfed – yet this is not considered thrush.
So what’s going on? A little understanding of breastfeeding physiology – and a bit of patience, are all that is required.
A little understanding of breastfeeding physiology… Breast milk is an alkaline substance with a pH of around 7.3–7.5 (7 being neutral).
Formula, however, has an acidifying effect on the body once ingested – its digestive enzymes break down protein to release amino acids, and its carbohydrates ferment in the gut, releasing energy for the body to use.
This kind of environment will ferment the lactose (milk sugar), so it’s no wonder that defecation is more frequent!
So while breastfeeding at least two hours a day will prevent this from happening, if your baby has been formula-fed, you shouldn’t be expecting a bowel movement during, before, or directly after feeds.
Also, it’s important to note that breastfed babies can sometimes go four or five days without a poo – and this doesn’t make them constipated either.
Long periods between poos are totally normal for exclusively breastfed babies (because their diet has no bulk), although you might want to feed more frequently if your baby seems uncomfortable.
However – it is important for your baby’s health that they poo at least once every three days, so don’t panic immediately if this doesn’t happen (although you should address the situation with your midwife or GP).
Giving your baby probiotics can be helpful in treating thrush and restoring their oral microbiome balance.
Your doctor will be able to prescribe an appropriate treatment for you and your baby so they can both get back on track with life as quickly as possible.
As always, it’s important that parents understand what might cause this condition so they know how to prevent it from happening again later on down the line.
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