Thrush or candidiasis is a fungal infection in the oral cavity that is common in babies. The fungus Candida albicans lives in our mouth and gastrointestinal tract. The fungus itself does not cause any illness, however when the natural balance between organisms is disrupted, an infection may develop.
Possible reasons for thrush are: Vaginal candidiasis of the mother and passing the fungi to the child during birth; during breastfeeding, if the mother’s nipples are infected; from a teat or a pacifier, utensils; poor oral hygiene of the baby; after antibiotic treatment; in babies with weak immune system – prematurely born, undernourished.
Thrash causes white spots to appear on the inside of the cheeks and the tongue, which look like curd and are difficult to wash away. The build-up is removed with a gauze or a cotton ball. Under it you will see a red, irritated area and in more sever cases, it may bleed. The child is irritable, it will start crying when you try to feed it form a breast or a bottle. Its breath smells unpleasant. Rarely, thrash may spread to other body parts in the form of light and dark red rash with clearly defined borders. Symptoms in breastfeeding mothers: itching, redness, burning sensation, or even cracked nipples, along with shooting pain during breastfeeding.
There are a few things you can do to reduce the risk of infection. Sterilise the teats, pacifiers, bottles, utensils the child uses daily. The baby would put every toy in its mouth, so always keep them clean. In case you already suffer from candidiasis, wash your breasts with cool water before every breastfeeding session. If you are using a breastfeeding pump, do not forget to sterilise it. After the baby is done feeding, always clean its mouth and oral cavity with sterilised water, so there are no traces of milk left, because fungi use the milk to feed. It is important to note that when there is an infection in the child, the mother can also get infected, and vice versa. This is why treatment is applied to both.
Have in mind that if the child’s tongue turns white, this is thrush. If in doubt, consult with your paediatrician or dentist for an active treatment. If treatment is done properly, thrush passes quite fast and without any complications.