Candida is a type of single-celled organism which is present in every body in small quantities. When this organism becomes too abundant, it can cause infections. These infections normally occur in the GI tract, but can show up in many areas of the body. One common infection due to this overgrowth is called thrush. Thrush is found in the mouth and on the tongue, or can be found in the diaper area. It is common in both babies and small children, although it is not cause for alarm. It is also sometimes seen in people who have been taking antibiotics.
All kinds of fungal infections can be present in people with immune diseases, such as HIV, AIDS, or cancer. The body is not able to fight many infections, and thrush, like other infections, is no exception. Along with this demographic, pregnant mothers are also at risk, due to fluctuations in the hormones which are naturally occurring during this time frame. All types of fungal infections, including thrush from candida, can occur easier in adults who have taken antibiotics frequently or taken them recently. The antibiotics kill important bacteria that is key in fighting candida.
Thrush, especially in babies, can look like small milk spots in the mouth. It looks like small white groovy bumps, but when these bumps are rubbed or pushed away the skin underneath can look raw and bright red, and bleeding may occur. One problem with thrush in babies is that if they are breast fed it can led to infecting the mother’s nipples. She can then pass this back to the baby in an endless back and forth infection. Mother’s who have thrush have reported extreme pain when breastfeeding. Until the infection is cleared in both the infant and the mother at the same time, this cycle will continue and the mother will continue to feel the pain during feeding time.
Babies usually get thrush from their mother during a vaginal delivery. If the mother has a yeast infection, or even the beginning of one, it can be transferred to the baby as it travels down the birthing canal. It may not be seen right away, but as soon as the baby begins to breastfeed, the baby transfers it back to the mom via the nipples.
It is also possible to transfer thrush via oral sex. Anyone who has thrush should avoid this type of sexual behavior until the infection is gone. If it happens inadvertently, the infection from the mouth may be transferred to the vagina or penis, resulting in a yeast infection.
For adults or babies and children who are otherwise healthy, there is no need to treat thrush as it will naturally go away on its own. For breastfeeding mothers it is important to get treatment so as to ease discomfort during feeding times, which can be very frequent when the baby is small.
For adults or children who are otherwise ill or have serious immune problems, it is necessary to treat thrush before it gets worse or manifests until it enters the bloodstream. When it does this, the candida can spread to other areas of the body and cause multiple infections. Typically all that is needed is anti-fungal medication to prevent this from happening and help to stop any potentially spreading infection. This is especially important for those with weakened immune systems.
It is possible for some people to have thrush and not know it. Others will have symptoms such as pain in the mouth or when brushing and flossing, white patches of the groovy bumps, or even a strange taste in their mouth.
Babies may turn away from a bottle or the breast because of the pain it causes when they suck. The baby may be grumpy and fussy from being hungry and not feeling well, or from the pain as the infection hurts their bottom as it causes diaper rash.
Thrush can go away by itself, especially in people who are otherwise healthy. For infections that won’t go away, an anti-fungal mouthwash can be used. This type of medication will generally take care of the infection within about two weeks, although there is occasionally a person who may need to use it longer. For babies, there is a type of medication that needs to be applied to the oral sores. This medication can be put on with a freshly washed, clean finger, or with a type of applicator. Babies often get over the infection within about a weeks time.
Although there are medical tests for thrush, they aren’t often needed. Most doctors can diagnose it just by looking at it. In rare occasions, a test may be ordered, but it isn’t common. If it is, the doctor will generally just do a swab over the spot and send it to the lab for testing.
As with any type of infection, the best thing to do is practice good hygiene to prevent it from spreading. Adults should wash their hands, brush their teeth regularly, and consider using a new toothbrush as the infection leaves. For pregnant women, a yeast infection should be treated as soon as possible, especially during the last trimester.
For babies, bottles should be properly cleansed and boiled for at least five minutes when applicable. As soon as the baby is finished with a bottle it should be immediately cleaned and disinfected. Any wet diapers should be changed immediately to avoid moisture being next to the skin. Although breastfeeding may be painful during this time, it is preferable to using a bottle. There is less likelihood of repeat infection when the mother is taking medication, unlike with a bottle. For any baby or small child who is not feeling well because of thrush, they should be comforted and treated as if they had any other type of illness.
While thrush can be an annoyance and discomfort, there is no overly harmful issues it can cause in a healthy person. With proper diagnosis, treatment, and prevention, thrush can be gone in a relatively short period of time. If it doesn’t go away, a doctor should be consulted with this information.