When your baby has white patches in the mouth on the lips, roof of the mouth, gums, tongue, and even the inner cheek, it might be thrush. What is it, and can it be treated?
Thrush is a form of yeast infection. You may find white patches in the mouth or cracked skin at the corners of the mouth. While it can be easy to confuse it on sight with the residue of breast milk or baby formula, it is not as easy to remove or wipe off as milk would be. This may be why your little one is fussy during feedings. Since it does not wipe off easily, it can make the mouth sore. Thrush in babies can also make its appearance as a diaper rash. It can be shiny and red and very irritating.
If you are breastfeeding, you may feel soreness and irritation in the nipples as it can spread.
Thrush does not come from the food that your baby eats. It can occur whether your baby is breastfed or formula-fed. The cause of thrush is the candida fungus that is naturally occurring in the body. It is controlled by the bacteria that is also naturally occurring. If the balance between the two is disturbed by things like illness, medication, stress, or even dry mouth, then the white patches are more visible and even painful.
It is not easy to scrape off thrush in babies because its curd-like consistency because it can reveal red and inflamed areas underneath that may be prone to slight bleeding. Instead, your doctor can do a throat culture to test for thrush. An anti-fungal medication over the course of 10-14 days usually does the trick.
During the treatment period, you can do your part to reduce the chance of spreading the infection. If you are breastfeeding, you may need an anti-fungal treatment for your nipples as your baby can pass it to you. Pumping your milk may also be a temporary fix while both you and your baby are recovering. If your baby is formula-fed, make sure that you are diligent in cleaning and sanitizing the bottles, nipples, and pacifiers.
It is important that you make sure that you complete the treatment for the full amount of time. If for any reason that the thrush continues to reoccur, speak with your pediatrician as it can be an indicator of a more serious problem.