Oral thrush, also called oral candidiasis, is an infection in the mouth and throat. Rarely painful, it is characterized by creamy white lesions on the inner cheeks, gums, tongue, palate, and back of the throat.
The infection can be passed back and forth between a mother and her breastfeeding infant. Women whose breasts are infected may experience symptoms such as red or sensitive nipples, shiny or flaky skin on the areolas, unusual pain while nursing or between feedings, or deep stabbing pains within the breasts.
Causes and triggers
Oral thrush is a yeast infection caused by the fungus Candida albicans. While it is a naturally occurring fungus in our mouths, it can at times multiply and cause an infection, such as after using certain antibiotics. The same fungus is also responsible for causing diaper rash in babies.
Mild cases of thrush usually resolve on their own within a few days. If the infection persists, it can be treated with a prescription antifungal medication. It is very important to continue treatment until the infection has been gone for at least 2 days.
Here are some measures that may help prevent recurrences:
- Wash your hands and your baby's hands often with soap and water.
- Wash bottle nipples and pacifiers, as well as any object that goes inside the baby's mouth with hot soapy water after each use.
- After a week of treatment for thrush, throw out all the above objects and buy new ones.
If the child is breastfed, the mother should:
- Be treated at the same time as her baby, even if she does not have symptoms.
- Avoid using nursing pads with a plastic backing, and opt for disposable ones that can be thrown out after every feed.
- Wear a clean bra every day.
- Wash breasts every day with soap and water.
- Wash all towels and clothes that come into contact with the breasts or the baby in very hot water.
When should I see a medical professional?
- If you are breastfeeding.
- If your baby has diaper rash.
- If your baby is older than 9 months and keeps having thrush symptoms.