What is thrush/yeast infections?
Thrush and yeast infections are caused by a naturally occurring fungus called candida. This fungus can grow rapidly, especially if the mother or child have been on antibiotics. Antibiotics contribute to the overgrowth of the fungus by killing off the good bacteria (the ones that control the growth rate of the fungus). Thrush is an oral candida infection, and a yeast infection is genital candida infection. If you have had a vaginal yeast infection in the last few months, or during your pregnancy, your nipples are sore or cracked, or your baby’s lips are chapped, you and your baby may be at an increased risk of developing thrush and/or a yeast infection.
What are the symptoms of thrush/yeast infections?
Thrush can be identified by white spots, sometimes pearly looking, surrounded by light to dark redness, in the baby’s mouth. The tongue may develop a white coating. If you gently scrape the baby’s tongue, it will be red, unlike a coating of milk on the baby’s tongue. The baby may be gassy, fussy, and seem hungry but unwilling to nurse. They may rub at their mouth, cheeks and gums. A yeast infection is often mistaken as a diaper rash. The rashes are generally red, bright pink, scaly and with raised pustules. Treatment with typical diaper creams will not clear up these infections. If your baby has had either thrush or a yeast infection, it is very likely they may develop the other, as they are caused by the same fungus. The mother of a baby with an infection may also develop a yeast infection in her breasts. Her nipples may become sore, painful, itchy or cracked. This may lead to plugged ducts, engorgement, mastitis, and a decrease in milk supply.
How can I treat thrush and yeast infections at home?
If you suspect your child has a yeast infection, consult your child’s physician. Many mothers use over-the-counter yeast infection medicine as a diaper rash cream, and have treated infant yeast infections successfully. Do not put yeast infection creams into your baby’s mouth. If you suspect your baby has thrush, your physician may prescribe a suspension called Nystatin to treat an oral infection. Since thrush is passed from breast to mouth, and mouth to breast. It is important to keep your breasts clean and dry. Allowing the nipples to dry before covering, and changing breastpads frequently, may help reduce the chances of developing an infection.
When should I seek help?
If the infection is located in the mouth, or does not improve with any at-home treatment, visit your child’s physician. Your child’s physician will be able to accurately diagnose the infection, as well as prescribe a prescription oral anti-fungal medication, like Nystatin, and recommend a regimen to help eliminate the infection and treat the symptoms as quickly as possible. Thrush and yeast infections may seem minor, but they can lead to more serious problems and are better off treated immediately.