What is Thrush & What to Do If Your Baby Gets It

What is Thrush & What to Do If Your Baby Gets It

Thrush is the common name for a yeast infection caused by Candida albicans. It is the same yeast that causes vaginal yeast infections. The symptoms of thrush for your baby are usually the appearance of white patches on the tongue, gums or other areas inside your baby’s mouth. Thrush does not wipe away like milk residue does, and parts that do wipe away usually show red irritated skin underneath. Mild cases should resolve quickly, but here is what to do if thrush is causing you or your baby problems.

Understand Where Thrush Comes From

Candida albicans is a natural part of your body. Your immune system keeps it from proliferating. Your baby is exposed to this yeast during natural birth. Antibiotics given to treat infections kill the good bacteria along with the bad, and the good bacteria keep yeast in check. If your baby was treated with antibiotics, thrush may occur. Your baby’s immune system is still developing, so thrush can occur even if no antibiotics have yet been used. The Candida yeast will naturally exist in and on your baby, and it is not an issue until it proliferates into an infection. Yeast infections in the diaper area look like a bad rash.

Stop Nipple Thrush Infections Before They Start

If your baby has thrush, it is possible for you to get a proliferation of the yeast at your nipple area during feeding. This can cause dryness, cracking of the skin, and extreme discomfort during breastfeeding. To help prevent you from a nipple yeast infection, be sure that the nipple area completely dries after feeding. Also, do not wear bras that do not absorb moisture. If an infection does occur, treatment provided by a dermatologist, such as those from Advanced Dermatology & Skin Cancer Specialists, may be necessary to control discomfort during breastfeeding.

Replenish Good Bacteria

Ask your doctor about infant probiotics to assist in the management of Candida albicans to prevent it from proliferating into a thrush infection. You may also wish to inquire of the potential benefit of probiotics for yourself if nipple thrush or vaginal yeast infections are an issue. Your baby is born with a sterile intestinal tract, and proper bacterial colonization is needed for digestion and immune system defense. Probiotics may assist in developing a healthy gastrointestinal tract.

Treat Thrush with Medications

Nystatin is a topical prescription medication used to treat skin infections of Candida yeast. Fluconazole is an oral medication that works systemically. Your doctor may prescribe these medications to treat your baby or yourself if thrush is causing your baby to not want to eat or excessive discomfort for yourself during breastfeeding. Take the time to go over the potential side effects with your physician, and be sure to ask about options to try first.

The appearance of Candida yeast in your baby’s mouth may be alarming, but it is usually not a problem. However, you should have it checked out by a healthcare professional, especially if your baby does not want to eat.

Hannah Whittenly is a freelance writer and mother of two from Sacramento, CA. She enjoys kayaking and reading books by the lake.