Thrush In Children - Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

Thrush In Children

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Does your child complain of pain in the gums? Does he seem to contract many skin infections? Do these conditions affect your child’s performance at school? If these signs seem familiar, your child might be a victim of thrush. But, don’t fret! Just keep reading our post on thrush in children and get all the information you need right here.

Thrush can occur in any part of your child’s body. The sudden growth of the yeast infection can make him feel irritated and restless. Read our post further and learn how to help your child overcome thrush.

What Is Thrush?

Thrush or Oropharyngeal candidiasis is a medical condition, which occurs due to the infestation of a specific yeast, Candida. The particular species of yeast occurs in every human body’s mouth, skin, and digestive tract. Typically, the active immune system of your child’s body limits the growth of Candida. But, abnormal functioning of the immune system can interrupt and upset the balance, which in turn triggers the overgrowth of the Candida fungus. It elevates the conditions of yeast infection in your child’s mouth, throat, and genital region.

Your child may also experience diaper rashes, due to the overgrowth of the yeast infection around his genital region. Thrush can occur to anyone, but it is most common occurrence in babies and toddlers (1).

Causes Of Thrush In Children:

A small amount of the fungus Candida is always present in the mouth, digestive tract and around your child’s skin. Due to the presence of bacteria and other beneficial microbes in your child’s body, the yeast growth is kept under check. However, there are certain conditions or situations that elevate the spread or overgrowth of Candida in your child’s body.

Here are some of the common factors to initiate the condition of thrush in a child:

1. Medications:

There is a certain group of medications, which can disturb the balance of microbes in your child’s body. Due to such harsh consequences, it leads to an overgrowth of the yeast infection. Some of the medications that cause thrush in your child are Antibiotics and corticosteroids.

2. Medical Conditions:

If your child contracts complex health disorders, it can weaken his immune system and increase his chances of developing thrush. Some common health complexities to elevate the risks of Candida overgrowth are cancer, HIV infection, Dry mouth, and uncontrolled diabetes.

[ Read: Signs Of Bruxism In Kids ]

3. Oral Thrush:

The typical species of fungus, Candida is normally present in the mouth and on the mucous membranes of every human being. When the proportion of the yeast is under the normal limit, it causes no harm to your little angel. But due to uncontrolled situations or medical conditions, the yeast can spread to the tissues and trigger the condition of oral thrush in child.

4. Weak Immune System:

A weak immune system will not be able to resist the overgrowth of yeast infection. As a result, the overgrowing yeast spreads to different parts of his body including mouth and skin.

[ Read: Natural Ways To Boost Kids Immune System ]

5. Diabetes:

If your child is a diabetic, he is more prone to suffer from thrush. The elevated level of blood sugar trigger the overgrowth of the Candida yeast and your diabetic child easily develops thrush.

6. Dry Mouth:

If your child often experiences the condition of dry mouth (xerostomia), his chances to develop oral thrush are high. Dry mouth occurs due to over usage of mouthwashes or other mouth gels. Sjögren’s syndrome also elevates the condition of dry mouth in your child.

7. Unhygienic Oral Habits:

Children who don’t know how to brush properly can easily be infected by the yeast overgrowth. Unhygienic oral habits elevate the risk of thrush for your growing child (2).

Symptoms Of Thrush In Children:

In most of the cases, the condition of thrush in your child would disappear in the limited span of time. But if the thrush appears to be chronic, then it can also persist for a longer duration and make your child more fuzzy and uncomfortable.

Some of the noticeable symptoms of thrush you can notice in your suffering child are:

1. White Patches Inside The Mouth:

A typical white patch would appear in your child’s mouth and tongue region. The slightly raised lesions may appear on the inner cheeks, the roof of your child’s mouth, gums, tonsils, or back of his throat. The patches may look like cottage cheese or milk stuck in your kid’s mouth. These patches can also bleed when rubbed hard.

[ Read: Gum Disease In Children ]

2. Sore Mouth:

Your child may experience sore mouth and face difficulties while swallowing his food.

3. Difficulty In Swallowing:

The white lesion spreads throughout the entire mouth region of your baby. It can harshly affect the esophagus or swallowing tube and make it difficult for him to swallow his food. In severe cases, the infection can also spread beyond his esophagus and trigger several other health discomforts like pain or high fever.

4. Poor appetite:

Your child may not feel like eating, due to his sore throat. He may suffer from a poor appetite, irritability and fatigue due to these consequences.

[ Read: Tips To Prevent Loss Of Appetite In Children ]

5. Bad Taste:

Your child may also experience a bad taste in the mouth, which is probably due to the yeast infection.

6. Redness:

Your child may experience redness or cracking at the corners of his mouth.

7. Cottony Feeling:

Your child may feel that his mouth is cottony (3).

[ Read: Coxsackievirus In Children ]

Diagnosing Thrush In Children:

Dentists typically diagnose the onset of oral thrush, by examining the characteristic white patches. At first, the dentist will perform a thorough investigation of your child’s mouth region. It can help to diagnose, if the yeast infection has spread to other parts of the body or not.

To confirm the preliminary diagnosis, the doctor may scrape the white lesions present in your child’s mouth region. A small amount of white matter in scraped from the infected mouth region. The doctor examines the sample under a microscope for a detailed investigation.

The thrush may spread farther down to your kid’s throat and reach the esophagus. In such circumstances, the doctor may recommend taking the following tests:

1. Endoscopy:

In the following test, a small camera supported with a flexible tube is utilized to examine your child’s stomach, esophagus, and upper part of his small intestine. The doctor will insert the camera through your kid’s throat region. If the picture shows any presence of white lesions in the esophagus or stomach, they are scraped for further diagnosis. The gastroenterologist performs the clinical procedure of endoscopy.

2. Throat Culture:

In this procedure, the back your kid’s throat is rubbed or swabbed with sterile cotton. The extracted tissue sample is sent for a detailed medical investigation.

3. Blood Test:

If your child has developed thrush due to some medical condition, the doctor may recommend a thorough blood test. The test can easily diagnose the severity of the disease. Blood tests can help diagnose if your kid is a diabetic, and thus also test for the possibility that the yeast infection is due to excess blood sugar. Remember that you need to make the utmost effort to keep your child’s blood sugar level under great control (4).

Treating Thrush In Children:

The thrush treatment for children would depend upon its severity and overall health conditions of your child. The basic purpose of the treatment is to stop the yeast growth from spreading to other body parts.

Here are some of the effective treatments, which can help in quick recovery of your infected child:

1. Antifungal Medication:

To stop the overgrowth of the fungal infection, the doctor may prescribe antifungal medications for your child. The antifungal medication comes in different forms like tablets, syrup or lozenges. If your child is not able to swallow his food comfortably, you can reliably opt for the syrups. The total duration of treatment and the type of antifungal medication would completely depend on the age and severity of oral thrush in your child. The untreated condition of thrush in children can take the most invasive form of Candida infection.

Doctors treat Oral candidiasis in your child with topical treatments such as nystatin suspension and clotrimazole troches. Some of the systemic antifungal medication including fluconazole or itraconazole can be prescribed to your child if the infection has spread to his esophagus.

Doctors treat Candida esophagitis using oral doses of itraconazole or intravenous doses of fluconazole. But in some of the rare cases, you child may not respond to these medications. To overcome such issues of azole-resistant, the doctor may further advise treatment with amphotericin.

2. Antifungal Cream:

If your breastfeeding baby has a problem of oral thrush, the doctor may recommend usage of mild antifungal creams for your nipples (5).

Preventing Thrush In Children:

There are effective preventive measures to reduce overgrowth of the harmful yeast infection Candida in your kid’s mouth or esophagus.

Keep a note of these important preventive measures:

1. Rinse Your Child’s Mouth Thoroughly:

If your child has to use a corticosteroid inhaler on a regular basis, he needs to wash his mouth thoroughly after using the inhaler. The active ingredients of corticosteroid imbalance the content of the useful microbes in your child’s body and thus the harmful yeast infection overgrows.

2. Brushing Teeth Regularly:

Ask your child to brush his teeth twice a day. Regular flossing and brushing can prevent the deposition of the Candida fungus, and your child can remain protected from the onset of oral thrush.

3. Visit The Dentist Regularly:

Take your growing child to a dentist. The dentist can examine his dental condition and prescribe any requisite treatment or medications. If your child is diabetic, visiting the dentist once in two months is a mouth.

[ Read: Dental Care For Kids ]

4. Limit Intake Of Sugary Food:

Regulate the amount of sugar-laden food your little one eats. Eating chocolates or high sugar desserts once in a week can cause no harm. But, don’t let him become addicted to sweets. The amount of sugar present in such deserts can trigger the growth of Candida, and your child may more often experience the discomforting pain in his mouth.

5. Keep His Blood Sugar Level Under Control:

Uncontrolled blood sugar level can easily initiate the spread and growth of Candida fungus in other parts your child’s body. To prevent such conditions keep the blood sugar level of your diabetic child under great control.

6. Intake Of Medications:

When your doctor has recommended your child to intake antibiotics for his medical conditions, you can add acidophilus capsules to his diet. The medication can help suppress the spread of Candida in your kid’s body (6).

Home Remedies To Cure Thrush In Children:

There are few effective home remedies that can cure oral thrush and suppress the spread of the Candida fungus. If your child is more often suffering from the oral discomfort, you can try these simple home remedies at first.

These suggestions may help to limit spread of oral thrush:

1. Practice Good Oral Etiquette:

Ask your child to follow good oral etiquette like brushing his teeth twice a day, regular flossing and visiting the dentist once in a month. Your child’s toothbrush should also be replaced more often so that no infection accumulates in the strands. If your child finds it difficult to use a toothbrush, you can also replace it with an electric toothbrush. Such an electric device can make brushing easier.

2. Don’t Overuse Mouthwashes Or Sprays:

Restrict your kid from using mouthwashes or sprays unnecessarily. Unless and until the dentist recommends usage of these products, your child should never experiment using these oral products.

3. Rinse Mouth With Warm Salt Water:

As soon as you notice the white lesions in your child’s mouth region, you can make him use warm salt water to rinse his mouth thoroughly. Dissolve half teaspoon of salt in one cup of warm water. Your child can use this solution to rinse his mouth. The dissolved salt limits the spreading of the Candida infection, and your child can recover from such pain and discomfort.

4. Using A Soft-Bristle Toothbrush:

When your child encounters the condition of oral thrush, make him use a soft toothbrush. It can protect the lesions from getting scratched or bleed.

5. Limit Intake Of Cold Beverages:

If your child is experiencing extreme oral discomfort caused out of the yeast overgrowth, prevent him from taking cold beverages. Restrict him from eating ice creams or desserts.

6. Eating Soft Food:

During the time of oral thrush, your kid may find difficulty in swallowing hard or spicy food. To avoid such consequences, make your child eat soft and over boiled food, which could be easier for him to swallow. Use fewer spices in food, so that it does not irritate his mouth lesions.

7. Using A Straw:

If the patches are extremely painful, your kid can use a straw to drink milk or water. It would make him feel comfortable, and also not trigger mouth pain or irritation (7).

Why Are Children At Greater Risks Of Developing Thrush?

Thrush, especially oral thrush is a common occurrence in infants and toddlers. The dental discomfort makes them fussy and easily agitated. A specific species of yeast fungus called Candida albicans resides in your child’s mouth. But due to poor dental habits or certain medical conditions the yeast can overgrow and infect the inner membranes of your kid’s mouth.

Small babies are at greater risk of developing oral thrush because their immune systems are not well developed, and their body is not able to resist the infection. The condition is more prevalent to occur in premature babies (born before 37 weeks of pregnancy).

Oral thrush can also infect your child if he has recently gone through medical treatment followed by the intake of antibiotics. Intake of such medications reduces the percentage of healthy bacteria in your child’s mouth. It triggers an overgrowth of the Candida fungus, and your child encounters oral thrush at his tender age.

If you are a breastfeeding mother and your doctor has recommended intake of antibiotics for your health condition, the infection can pass to your feeding baby.

Risk Factors Of Thrush In Children:

There are certain factors that increase the chances of your child to suffer from the condition of oral thrush. Children with weakened immune system are more prone to get affected by the harmful infection.

Some of the risk factors associated with thrush are:

  • Medical conditions including, cancer, HIV infection, cancer, dry mouth and uncontrolled diabetes can trigger thrush in your child.
  • Intake of medications including corticosteroids, antibiotics, and cancer drugs triggers the onset of yeast overgrowth in your kid’s body.
  • If your child is a cancer victim and has to take chemotherapy or radiation on a regular basis, his chances of developing thrush are high.
  • Having health conditions of diabetes is another risk factor to lead the overgrowth of the yeast infection (8).

Possible Complications Of Thrush In Children:

If your child more often experiences the condition of oral thrush, the yeast infection can predominantly spread to other parts of his body. Some of the possible health complications to arise are:

  • Brain (meningitis)
  • Esophagus (esophagitis)
  • Heart (endocarditis)
  • Joints (arthritis)
  • Eyes (endophthalmitis) (9)

[ Read: Symptoms Of Strep Throat In Kids ]

Foods To Avoid:

Most health practitioners may recommend your suffering child to follow a healthy diet routine. As the infection in your child’s mouth can make him feel uncomfortable or difficult to swallow his food, you need to select the diet wisely.

To limit the overgrowth of Candia fungus in your child’s mouth, you should restrict your child from eating these foods:

  • Sugary Food:

If your kid is more often complaining about oral thrush and terrible mouth pain, restrict him from eating high sugary foods and deserts. Excessive intake of sugars triggers the overgrowth of harmful oral bacteria. Restrict your child from eating sweet delicacies including pastries, cookies, chocolate, pudding, ice cream, or other sugary deserts.

  • Fermented Foods:

Thrush victims also need to limit intake of fermented or yeast containing food items such as bread or pickles.

Other foods that your child should avoid during thrush, include:

  • Mushrooms
  • Acidic foods like vinegar
  • Eggs
  • Seafood and shellfish varieties
  • Nutty food products including Pistachios, peanut butter, and peanuts
  • Dairy products such as frozen yogurt, cottage cheese, and sour cream.
  • Foods made from flour or wheat
  • Caffeinated beverages, including tea, coffee or hot chocolate
  • Meat varieties, such as beef, pork, sausage or hot dogs.
  • Foods containing high levels of preservatives and additives
  • Soybean or other soy products like tofu or soymilk
  • Condiments such as barbecue or steak sauce, soy sauce, mayonnaise, salad dressing and ketchup

When To Visit A Doctor?

Under normal conditions, the appearance of the white lesion gets cured in 3-4 days. But if the condition or the rashes persist for longer, seek professional advice immediately.

Below are some conditions, for which your child needs to visit the doctor or specialist immediately:

  • The white patches seem to spread to different parts of your child’s mouth
  • Your child is more often down with high fever and elevating body temperature
  • Your child suffers from the thrush infection, which keeps recurring more often than normal (10)

[ Read: Gingivostomatitis In Children ]

Some Important Facts About Thrush In Children:

Here are some important facts about thrush and how it affects children:

  • The condition of Thrush (oropharyngeal candidiasis) occurs due to the overgrowth of Candida albicans in his mouth and throat region.
  • The onset of thrush is triggered due to a variety of factors including medications, stress, bad oral habits or illness.
  • Oral Thrush in children is common and usually not that harmful.
  • Symptoms of thrush in children include white patches in his mouth, throat, palate, inner cheeks, and tongue. The symptoms of thrush are often accompanied by extreme mouth pain and soreness.
  • Treatment for thrush in children includes simple home remedies and intake of prescribed medications.

With such information, you can help your child recover from the painful condition of thrush easily.

Did your child suffer from oral thrush? How did you deal with your child’s painful conditions? Which home remedies did you follow for oral thrush in children? Tell us below. Share your stories and opinions with fellow mommies. We would love to hear from you.

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