Oral thrush in infants
Home Remedies for Baby Thrush
Infant oral thrush is a very common yeast infection, caused by the Candida Albicans fungus. There are several different microorganisms that live in our bodies and yeast or the Candida Albicans fungus happens to be one of them. This fungus usually lives in our mouths and our digestive systems, without causing any problems. However, there are several factors that cause an imbalance or an overgrowth of yeast, which leads to infections like oral thrush.
Infants come into contact with yeast for the first time, when they travel through the birthing canal during delivery. Thrush usually develops when the hormonal changes that take place soon after birth trigger off an overgrowth of yeast in the baby’s mouth. This infection is basically harmless and can occur in all babies; however, infants below the age of 2 months are more likely to get oral thrush. This is probably because the immune system in newborns is not fully developed.
Oral thrush in newborns looks like cottage cheese or milky curd that develops on the tongue, the inner side of the cheeks or the roof of the mouth. Many mothers get confused between the signs of thrush and milk residue. However, in case your baby has infant oral thrush, this curd-like substance will not go away, even if you try to wipe it off with a piece of cloth or gauze. You may be able to scrape the white patches off, but this will cause redness and bleeding. Your baby may also develop cracks on the skin around the corners of his mouth. Many infants show no signs of pain or discomfort in spite of suffering from oral thrush. However, at times this infection could cause your baby to start crying when he drinks milk or sucks on a pacifier.
Most cases of thrush go away on their own, without any treatment. However, there is a very high chance that the infection will come back, unless it is treated in the right manner. Doctors generally prescribe an antifungal solution for treating oral thrush in newborns. This medicated solution needs to be applied to the affected area with the help of a sponge applicator. In most cases, doctors recommend miconazole gel or nystatin suspension for babies. Though both these cures are useful in treating the infection, miconazole is said to be a bit more effective.
In addition to medical cures, you could also try using certain home remedies for thrush in babies. Given below are some of the most common thrush home remedies for infants:
- Baking Soda: Mild cases of infant oral thrush can be treated using baking soda, diluted in water. Boil a cup of drinking water and allow it to cool for a few minutes, till it reaches room temperature. Add about half a teaspoon of baking soda and mix it well. Dip a thin cotton swab into the solution and gently wipe your baby’s mouth with it. Start with the inner lips, the inside of the cheek, the roof of the mouth and end with the take. Do ensure that you use a fresh cotton swab each time you wipe your little one’s mouth. Also make sure that your baby is sitting in an upright position during this exercise, as it will keep him from swallowing the excess liquid. If there is any baking soda solution left over, discard it and prepare a fresh solution the next day.
- Tea Tree Oil: Boil about half a cup of water and allow it to cool to room temperature before adding 1 or 2 drops of tea tree oil to it. Dip a cotton bud into the mixture and shake all the extra liquid off. Wipe all the affected areas in your baby’s mouth carefully with the cotton bud. Use a new bud with each wipe, to keep the infection from spreading.
- Grapefruit Seed Extract: Though this remedy is slightly bitter, it helps in killing off infection causing fungus. Dilute 7 to 8 drops of grapefruit seed extract (available at most pharmacies) in an ounce of distilled water. Apply the solution on to the affected parts of your baby’s mouth after each feed.
If you are nursing a baby with thrush, you will need to undergo treatment at the same time as your little one, even if you do not have the infection. This is one of the breastfeeding precautions with thrush, as mothers and babies tend to pass on the infection back and forth. The candida albican fungus thrives in environments that are moist, warm and sweet, which is usually provided by your nipples during breastfeeding. Therefore, it is quite possible for you to get thrush from your baby’s mouth while nursing. To stop the infection from being passed on to your baby again, make sure that you consult a doctor and take the necessary medication. Some of the other steps that can be useful include:
- Eating yogurt or other foods that contain probiotics
- Restricting your intake of sugar and sweets
- Sterilizing breast pumps as soon as you use them
- Keeping nipples clean and dry at all times
Speak to your doctor, in case the thrush lasts for more than 2 weeks. Though infant oral thrush is not a serious problem, it should be treated without any delay, as it could cause your baby a significant amount of pain and discomfort.
- RosemaryD. Graham, ORAL THRUSH IN INFANCY TREATED WITH NYSTATIN, The Lancet, Volume 274, Issue 7103, 17 October 1959, Pages 600-601, ISSN 0140-6736, 10.1016/S0140-6736(59)91698-8.
- May Loo, CHAPTER 58 – Thrush, Integrative Medicine for Children, W.B. Saunders, Saint Louis, 2009, Pages 446-447, ISBN 9781416022992, 10.1016/B978-141602299-2.10058-1.
- G.B. Ludlam, J.L. Henderson, NEONATAL THRUSH IN A MATERNITY HOSPITAL, The Lancet, Volume 239, Issue 6177, 17 January 1942, Pages 64-70, ISSN 0140-6736, 10.1016/S0140-6736(00)70288-1.
- Catherine M. Bendel, Chapter 33 – Candidiasis, Infectious Diseases of the Fetus and Newborn Infant (Sixth Edition), W.B. Saunders, Philadelphia, 2006, Pages 1107-1128, ISBN 9780721605371, 10.1016/B0-72-160537-0/50035-9.