Health Library

What is Thrush?

Thrush is a yeast infection commonly seen in a baby's mouth. Thrush appears as whitish-gray elevated patches that look like cottage cheese or milk curds. They are found on the insides of a baby's cheeks, tongue and gums. These patches will not wipe off and may become red and raw if you try to wipe them off.

If there are many of these patches, your baby may have pain while sucking and will not drink as well.

Causes of Thrush

Thrush is caused by a yeast called Candida albicans. It is normal in the mouth and vagina. It usually does not cause any problems, but an illness, use of antibiotics, or hormone changes can make the yeast grow and cause symptoms of infection.

Thrush may appear at any time. If it does, call your child's doctor.

Treatment for Thrush

Thrush is usually treated with nystatin, a liquid medication. Nystatin is placed in each cheek of your baby’s mouth using a syringe or sponge. Give after feeding and as your child’s doctor has directed.

Continue to use all the medication, even if the spots are gone. Thrush should disappear after the medicine is completed. Call the doctor if your baby has trouble eating or if the patches do not go away after one week.

Tips to Prevent Thrush

It is important to boil reusable nipples and pacifiers for 10 minutes, and cool them before your baby uses them again. Running them through the dishwasher is also effective.

Be sure to wash your hands and the baby's hands often and well.

Breastfeeding with Thrush

Mothers who are breastfeeding when their babies have thrush can continue breastfeeding. If mom is having new nipple pain, she may need to be evaluated by her own doctor for possible treatment. Wash and sterilize any breastfeeding supplies, such as breast pump parts, breast shells or nipple shields, daily in the same manner as bottles and pacifiers. Change nursing pads and wash bras frequently until both you and your baby are clear of symptoms.

Breastfeeding mothers whose infants receive preventative treatment for thrush as part of an antibiotic or chemotherapy plan do not need treatment unless their child develops symptoms.

Last Updated 08/2021

Reviewed By Terri Rutz, RN, BSN, IBCLC

Visiting Cincinnati Childrens.

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