Babies go through distinct stages of development and as their bodies adjust to the new environment they are prone to various infections and ailments. One of the most common ones is thrush which portrays itself with white patches or spots around or inside the baby’s mouth. Thrush may also look yellow or cream in some instances and in a few occasions the patches can join to form large plaques.
Oral thrush in babies is very common in the first year of an infant’s life, but it is nothing to worry you. Each child may react differently to infection depending on its severity. Whereas some will get, irritated others will not even notice it as it does not bother them in any way. However, as a mother it is essential to know the symptoms to look out for, what causes it and most importantly the treatment and home remedies you can use to ease any irritation.
What Causes Oral Thrush
Thrush does not occur in the mouth alone, and this is contrary to what some parents think. The mouth is the most visible place, and so most people will only associate the condition with it. However, it also affects the tongue and the throat.
The primary cause of this condition is Candida Albicans which is a type of yeast present in the body. This fungus lives in a stable balance with the different organisms in the body, and it does not pose any significant threat to your health, and you will never notice it once you are an adult. However, it causes thrush in children because their immune system is yet to develop fully.
The lack of a fully developed immune system will allow the candida to grow beyond the usual level and since the baby is not able to fight off the infection that comes with it, he will develop thrush. Apart from this, the condition can also occur if the baby has been using antibiotics. Antibiotics are very effective in destroying bacteria, but they will not discriminate, and they may end up also reducing the level of the healthy bacteria in the mouth and hence allowing the fungus to grow.
Thrush can also pass from a mother to a baby, and this is more so if she is taking antibiotics. As a mother, if you are taking these medications to treat an infection it will also kill your healthy bacteria and hence allow the fungus to grow. The fungus will give you thrush, and you can pass it to the baby when breastfeeding.
Symptoms Of Oral Thrush In Babies
Each child’s immune system will react differently to infections and so the symptoms of thrush might also differ from one baby to the other. However, there are some universal, or common symptoms that you can associate with this condition and the following are some of them.
White spots or patches around the mouth, inside the mouth and on the tongue is the most prominent symptom of this condition. Although the spots are white in most instances, they can turn yellow or cream in some cases. It is also relevant to note that sometimes the patches will join to form a plaque.
In some rare occasions the baby’s mouth will become irritated if they have thrush and so if you notice the white spots and a sore mouth this is a sure indication that the child has the problem.
Refusal To Feed
If the thrush causes the mouth to become very red it means that it is quite severe. In such cases, it will cause some irritation and so the baby might also refuse to breastfeed or take his formula.
Fussiness At The Breast
Even if the baby does not refuse to breastfeed you should watch out for any fussiness. The irritation that may come with the thrush will make the child uncomfortable, and so he will keep on detaching from the breast instead of feeding continuously.
Oral thrush in babies will mainly show in and around the mouth, but you can also tell that the child has it or is about to get it if he has diaper rash. The fungus that causes the diaper rash is the same one that brings about thrush.
Tips For Preventing Thrush In Babies
Prevention should be your top priority when it comes to your baby, and this is even for a minor condition like oral thrush. It might not be very serious, but it can still be stressful for the infant. And so to prevent this condition, you should make sure that you sterilize dummies if your baby uses them.
Any toys that the baby puts into his mouth should also be disinfected every time before he uses them and also after use. It is also important to ensure that you do not allow anybody else to wet the baby’s dummy in their mouth as this can transfer the fungus from their mouth to the child.
You should also observe maximum hygiene when it comes to feeding time because this can also lead to the transmission of fungus. To do this, you should sterilize the bottles and all the other things that you use when feeding the child. It is important to ensure that your breast is clean before feeding the child.
Some doctors will also tell you that it is a good idea to give your infant some sterilized water to rinse away any milk in the mouth as it provides a favorable environment for the growth of candida.
Home Remedies For Oral Thrush In Babies
As much as you might try to prevent the oral thrush you might not always be successful. However, this should not worry you because it should go away after some time without requiring any treatment. But, there are still some remedies that you can use at home to help your infant, and they include the following.
Try swabbing the affected area with coconut oil gently.
A mixture of a teaspoon of salt with warm water is also a good remedy as it creates a hostile habitat for the fungus but you have to figure out a way to give it to the baby.
If the baby eats solid foods you can use probiotic yogurt as a home remedy because the cultures in it are quite useful in thrush treatment.
Rubbing a paste of breast milk and water in the baby’s mouth once a day can also be an effective remedy.
Gentian Violet, which is an antifungal dye, can also get rid of the thrush in a week or two.
Oral thrush in babies is very common, and so it should not worry you as it will go away after some time even without treatment. If the baby also has other things such as fever, or you think that the child is just unwell, you should visit a doctor. With simple remedies above in mind, you can help get rid of it within a short time.