Oral thrush is an infection that commonly affects infants. It results in irritation in and around the baby's mouth. The most visible symptom of the infection comprise of white sores inside the mouth or on the lips, which resemble curdled milk or cottage cheese. There might be cracked skin in the corners of the mouth as well. Oral thrush usually affects children who are less than 6 months of age. At times, it might affect older adults as well. In this article, we will help you explore the causes and symptoms of oral thrush in infants.
The main cause of oral thrush in infants comprises of an overgrowth of the yeast candida albicans. A large number of infants have candida in their mouths and digestive tracts, which occurs naturally. However, the immune system of the infant as well as some 'good bacteria' determines the amount of candida that will be present inside the body, preventing its overgrowth. It is when the immune system of an infant gets weakened that the candida present in his/ her digestive tract starts overgrowing and result in an infection.
In most of the cases, it is because of an illness or medications, like chemotherapy, that the immune system of a baby becomes weak and the candida growth increases. However, the infection might also occur in infants whose immune system is not yet fully developed. Oral thrush might also result if a baby has received antibiotics for a bacterial infection. This is because even a single dose of such antibiotics can end up killing the 'good bacteria' in the body, which keep candida growth under check.
Use of non-sterilized pacifiers and bottle nipples can also make a baby suffer from oral thrush. When left unclean, the pacifiers and nipples serve as the perfect means for the yeast to enter into an infant's body. If the infant is still on breast milk and the mother has oral thrush on her nipples, it can easily pass on to him/her as well. Apart from oral thrush, candida overgrowth can lead to a number of other infections as well, more prominent of them being vaginal (yeast) infections and diaper rashes.
- Thick white or cream-colored deposits on mucosal membranes
- White lesions or sores inside the mouth or on the lips
- Red and possibly slightly raised mucosa of the mouth
- Spots in the mouth that cannot be wiped or scraped away
- Discomfort when the baby sucks or has pacifier or bottle in his mouth
Other Risk Groups
Apart from Infants, oral thrush can affect the following category of people as well.
- Diabetics, with poorly controlled diabetes
- People who have been on medication, mostly antibiotics, for sometime
- People with an immune deficiency (as a result of AIDS/HIV or chemotherapy treatment, etc)
- Women undergoing hormonal changes, like pregnancy or those having birth control pills
- People who inhale corticosteroids, for treatment of lung conditions (like Asthma or COPD)
- People with fresh oral piercing
- Denture users
- Regular smokers