What Does Baby Mouth Thrush Look Like?

Baby mouth thrush which is evident from a white coating on the tongue of the baby

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Baby mouth thrush is a common infection that can be painful and difficult to treat. It’s important to know how it looks, what causes it, the symptoms of baby mouth thrush, as well as treatment options for this condition.

However, it can be difficult to know what the symptoms are because they may not always be apparent.

Thrush predominately appears as white patches on the inside of your baby’s mouth and cheeks, but you may not notice this unless you look very closely or if your baby is drooling or making funny faces due to discomfort.

What is thrush in babies?

Thrush in babies is a sort of yeast infection that manifests as white or yellow irregularly shaped patches or sores that coat your baby’s lips. It is both common and usually not serious. The gums, tongue, roof of the mouth, and/or insides of the cheeks are frequently affected by thrush.

Candida albicans, yeast or fungus, causes thrush in infants. While thrush is a minor infection, it can be distressing or even painful for your kid — and you if you’re nursing and your child passes the virus on to you.

There are several different types of oral yeast infections that may be present in babies (thrush, candidiasis).

This common oral yeast infection can leave your baby’s mouth with white spots and make sucking and feeding difficult. The good news is that it’s a common ailment that’s easy to treat.

How do babies get thrush?

For children under 12 months old, it is common for them to have thrush since their immune systems are still underdeveloped.

Though thrush appears in your baby’s mouth, it most likely began as a yeast infection in your birth canal, and it was there that your baby picked it up when she entered the world.

Thrush is caused when the Candida fungus grows unchecked inside the body as well as on teeth and gums. It presents itself as redness around the tongue and white patches at the back of the throat.

Candida is a yeast-like bacterium that lives in the mouth or vaginal canal and is usually kept in check by other bacteria. However, if you get sick, start taking antibiotics, or go through hormonal changes (such as those that occur during pregnancy), the balance might be thrown off, allowing Candida to flourish and infect you.

Thrush is more common in newborns and babies under the age of two months since it is picked up at birth. Older babies can get thrush if they’ve been on antibiotics for another infection (which kills the “good” bacteria that keep yeast at bay) or if their immune system is weakened.

Thrush can also occur if Mom’s breast isn’t dried correctly after feeding, allowing yeast to thrive and infect her. Furthermore, pacifiers or bottles can keep the insides of a baby’s mouth excessively moist, creating an ideal environment for yeast to proliferate.

Key characteristics to identify thrush

Here is a list of some common symptoms that may indicate an oral yeast infection in children:

  • foul smell coming from the mouth or diaper area
  • white patches inside the mouth
  • thrush near the tongue, the roof of mouth, or throat
  • swollen red tonsils with white spots inside them
  • Fussiness when feeding and as soon as the baby starts to suck, they turn away in pain

How to check if it is thrush or not

If your baby’s white tongue is caused by milk or a fungal illness, gently wipe it away with a soft, moist towel or a gauze-covered finger to see if it’s caused by milk or fungal infection.

If the tongue is pink and healthy-looking after wiping, there is no need for additional therapy.

If the white patch is difficult to remove, or if it does and you discover a raw, red area underneath, it’s most likely thrush, and you should see your doctor.

Baby has thrush in their mouth and on their tongue - baby mouth thrush
Baby has thrush in their mouth and on their tongue

Is thrush contagious?

If you’re breastfeeding, there’s a good possibility that unpleasant yeast isn’t just feasting on your kid. During nursing sessions, yeast infections are transmitted from the baby’s mouth to the mother’s breast (and then back and forth if both members of the breastfeeding parties aren’t treated).

Nipple thrush is characterized by burning and aching nipples, as well as a pink, glossy, itchy, flaky, and/or crusty appearance. Sharp shooting sensations in the breast may also occur during or after feedings.

When your baby has thrush, they may develop a yeast infection diaper rash (also known as yeast diaper rash), which is an angry, red rash on his bottom brought on by a yeast infection.

Treating thrush

Because thrush is easily spread, it’s ideal if you and your infant both get treated.

Your doctor may prescribe an antifungal medicine (such as Nystatin) to be administered topically to the insides of the mouth and tongue many times a day for ten days for your baby.

If your doctor has prescribed it, make sure to apply it to all of your baby’s white areas in the mouth. Fluconazole (brand name Diflucan), an oral medicine taken by dropper, may be prescribed in severe cases.

Babies with thrush and yeast infection diaper rash can be treated with a particular prescription antifungal drug designed specifically for that location.

If you have nipple thrush, your doctor will most likely advise you to use a prescription antifungal cream to treat your breasts.

The infection should clear up in a week or so with medication. If it doesn’t, consult your doctor.

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Preventative measures to reduce the chance of thrush returning

There are several things you can do to reduce the chances of thrush returning. Predominately, cleaning and sterilizing everything from bottles to breast pumps, surfaces to toys will provide the best line of defense.

The following are some things that you should do when noticing these symptoms:

  • Wash hands thoroughly before touching anything in your kitchen including food prep surfaces and dishes
  • Keep all toys clean by washing them daily in hot soapy water
  • Make sure you are using a clean spoon when feeding baby
  • Be sure to use a sterilized bottle warmer.
  • If your baby is breastfeeding, then it would be a good idea to pump and dump for a few days while the infection clears up
  • Allow your breasts to dry fully between feedings can prevent germs and other microbes from growing, replacing nursing pads after feedings, wearing cotton bras that don’t trap moisture, and washing such bras frequently in hot water (drying them in the sun may also provide extra protection).
  • Offer baby more frequent feedings of smaller amounts of milk

If you have tried these remedies and nothing seems to be working, then your doctor will probably prescribe a medicated cream that should clear up the problem in only a few days.

The following are some things NOT to do when treating thrush:

  • Do not use any creams or ointments that you have at home without first consulting your doctor * Do not use milk from a previously pumped breast as a replacement for formula
  • Do not allow anyone to kiss your baby until the yeast infection clears up

Since antibiotics can trigger a yeast infection, they should be used only when needed — and that goes for both you and your baby.

In conclusion

The best way to deal with thrush is by using a topical treatment like Nystatin or Lactobacillus.

Thrush in the mouth of a baby is a frequent condition that is uncomfortable and difficult to treat. It’s essential to understand how infant mouth thrush appears, what causes it, the symptoms, and treatment choices for this ailment.

Our article on baby mouth thrush should help you understand more about this common childhood ailment so that your child will have less discomfort in their day-to-day life.

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