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What causes thrush? – It may not be milk on that tongue

Infectious Diseases

Thrush is a very common infection in babies. It is caused by Candida albicans yeast that is usual in the first few months of life.

What causes thrush?

Thrush is caused by an overgrowth of yeast that seems to favor the wet surface of the tongue and can also cause infections on the skin, particularly the diaper area.

Signs of a yeast infection

Thrush looks like white patches on the tongue, inner cheeks, lips and mouth. It is distinguishable from milk as it is not easy to scrape off. Thrush is not bothersome to most babies, though some children will display fussiness when feeding.

Many babies will also get this rash in their diaper area. Here it looks like little red dots.

Is a yeast infection contagious?

It is often hard to tell if mom gave thrush to the baby or the other way around. Often both baby and mom will have thrush, even if she is experiencing no symptoms. If the rash spreads to mom’s nipples and she is breast-feeding, she may experience discomfort, itching or a stabbing pain in the breast.

How long do yeast infections last?

Untreated, thrush may persist for months, though usually it disappears by toddlerhood.

Yeast infection home treatment

Thrush is generally easy to treat. I routinely use Nystatin drops for 7- 14 days. If a mom is breast-feeding, I suggest she use an antifungal cream on the nipple area after feeds. Otherwise baby and mom may pass the infection back and forth. Parents should also ensure that pacifiers and bottles are sterilized to avoid recontamination.

Dr. Dina Kulik, MD, FRCPC, PEM
Written By: Dr. Dina Kulik, MD, FRCPC, PEM

Dina is a wife, mother of 4, and adrenaline junky. She loves to share children’s health information from her professional and personal experience. More About Dr Dina.

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