Table of Contents
Infants are born without the immunity they need to fight off infections. Until they reach one year of age when their immune systems are stronger, they are unable to recover from fungal infections without prompt medical help.
The need for medical attention can be particularly important when babies develop thrush. Thrush is a fungal infection caused by the yeast known as Candida. Most people naturally have yeast in their bodies, most notably in their mouths. While adults have bacteria in their mouths to keep the yeast under control, infants lack such immunity and thus are at risk of developing a thrush infection.
When babies’ immune systems are compromised because of a cold, the flu, or even a simple ear infection, they can develop a secondary fungal infection that is known as thrush. The yeast in their mouths grow at unprecedented rates and create a thick whitish-yellow covering on the babies’ tongues and cheeks.
Babies can also develop thrush on other parts of their bodies, most notably their bottoms. Thrush on a baby’s bottom can be linked to poor immune response as well as a lack of good hygiene and care. When a baby develops a thrush infection anywhere on the body, it is important that the parents take the infant to the doctor for prompt medical care. This fungal infection is highly treatable with anti-fungal medications. Within one or two days after starting the medication, the infant should be able to eat and sleep better.
How Do Babies Get Thrush In The Mouth?
As noted, babies lack the immune response to fight off even the most minor and simplest of infections. When they catch a cold, develop RSV, or suffer from an ear infection for which an antibiotic is prescribed, their immunity is lowered even more because their systems are fighting off the primary infection. It is when babies’ immune systems are preoccupied with fighting off serious illnesses like the flu that the yeast in infants’ mouths begins to overpopulate. In a matter of days after developing the first infection, infants could develop a significant case of oral thrush.
Babies also can contract thrush from baby bottle nipples and pacifiers. If bottle nipples or pacifiers are not sterilized and cleaned properly, they can harbor yeast that can then invade a baby’s mouth. To lower the risk, parents are reminded to wash the nipples on a baby bottle thoroughly and also sterilize them in hot water at least once a day. Many parents solve this problem by washing the bottles, nipples, and pacifiers in the dishwasher.
Also as noted, thrush is very treatable and can clear up quickly with appropriate and prompt medical treatment. Many pediatricians prescribe liquid fluconazole or nystatin for infants with this condition. The medication is flavored with orange or cherry so that babies find it palatable and avoid spitting it out. The medicine should not so much be swallowed as it should be allowed to make contact with the baby’s mouth or tongue. This contact allows the medicine to kill the yeast and to eliminate the thrush infection. Most babies must continue taking the medication for five to seven days. However, if the thrush has been allowed to fester for a week or it covers more than one part of the mouth, the doctor may prescribe it for 10 days.
How Do Babies Get Thrush From Breastfeeding?
Many moms think that breastfeeding reduces the chance that their babies can get thrush. While statistics show that bottle-fed babies do get thrush more often, breastfed babies are not entirely immune to this fungal infection. However, when breastfed babies get thrush, it is often because their mothers have a yeast infection on their breasts.
Women can know for sure that they have a yeast infection on their breasts by looking for specific signs and symptoms. For example, a common sign of a breast yeast infection in women is cracked nipples that do not heal quickly. Cracked nipples make it difficult for babies to latch on; they also harbor yeast that can get into a baby’s mouth. A woman’s nipples may also itch, burn, look red or shiny, and be sensitive to the touch.
If a woman believes she has a yeast infection on her breast, she should immediately start applying topical yeast infection medicine to her nipples. She also might need to switch to bottle feeding or pump breast milk until the infection heals. It is important as well that she sterilize her baby’s pacifier and bottle nipples to kill an yeast on them.
How Do Babies Get Thrush On Their Bottoms?
Most babies develop diaper rash at some point in their infancy. However, what parents might believe to be a bad case of diaper rash could actually be thrush on the baby’s bottom. Just like developing thrush in their mouths, babies can also be at risk of suffering from a thrush infection on their backsides if the conditions are right for the infection. Parents can protect their babies from this minor, yet still painful fungal condition by knowing how their infants can contract it.
One of the more common ways that thrush develops on a baby’s bottom involves a dirty diaper being left on too long. When parents are remiss in changing their infants as often as needed, they put their little ones at risk for thrush on the bottom. Yeast thrive in warm and wet conditions, which are found on the baby’s skin when a soaked diaper is left on too long. The yeast then grow and cause a thrush rash to develop.
Thrush on a breastfed baby’s bottom when the mother is taking antibiotics for an infection. The antibiotics pass into the baby’s body from the breast milk. They in turn make it more difficult for the baby to fight off the yeast that is living on his or her bottom. A diaper thrush infection can be easily treated with topical anti-fungal medications. The medication should be used until the rash clears up entirely.