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Thrush is a yeast infection that causes white patches in the mouth on cheeks, gums and on the tongue. Thrush is most common in babies and older adults, but it can occur at any age. You get thrush when a yeast called Candida, normally found on the body, grows out of control.
In babies, Candida causes thrush because
babies' immune systems are not yet strong enough to control
the growth of the yeast and are more likely to have problems if they have been or are on antibiotics.
It is possible to contract thrush from your breastfeeding baby. Most likely it will not infect your mouth, rather, your nipples. Common symptoms are itching or light peeling and in more severe cases a sharp needle-like pain inside the breast.
The most common symptoms of
thrush are white patches that stick to the inside of the mouth and tongue. In babies, it is easy to mistake
thrush for milk or formula. It looks like cottage cheese or milk curds. Don't
try to wipe away these patches, because you can make them red and sore. I have also read that to check that they are not just from milk it is ok to wipe very gently with a soft cloth to see if they come off, so use your discretion. Some
babies with thrush can be cranky and do not want to eat. ** I have also noticed that thrush outbreaks really exacerbated my son's reflux, so I knew when he was getting it again even before he had white spots**
Thrush can be particularly hard to get rid of when you are breastfeeding as the infection can be passed from nipple to mouth and then back from mouth to nipple. It is important to treat both even if there are no visible signs.
~Gentian violet in the mouth, and it is indeed violet! It will stain the mouth for a few days, and will stain clothes, paci's and nipples. This should get rid of most, if not all, visible white patches and gives quick relief.
~If they have a diaper rash associated with thrush (there will be bright red sores, and general irritation) DO NOT USE PETROLEUM BASED CREAMS. Wash hands thoroughly after diaper changing.
~If you are using cloth diapers, I recommend switching to 'sposies during rash outbreaks to preven re-introducing the infection. If possible, wash cloth diapers in hot water with vinegar in the 1st rinse.
~If baby is old enough, add yogurt with active cultures to diet. Children's Probiotic powders are also available in the health food section of many grocery stores, and can be dissolved in milk or water.
~Make a solution of 1 C. water and 1 Tbsp. white vinegar. Apply to your nipples with a clean cotton round after each feeding.
~Eat yogurt, or add a probiotic to your diet. The good bacteria in the active cultures will help your body naturally keep the yeast in check.
~Boil all pacifiers, bottle nipples, breast pump accessories (as allowable) for 20 minutes.
~Use vinegar wash on all teethers and any other area that comes in contact with baby's mouth frequently.
~Wash all towels, blankets, and clothing exposed to breastmilk or spit up in hot water, adding 1/2 c. vinegar to the rinse cycle.
~Use towels and bras only once before washing. (I don't have that luxury with bras, so use disposable breast pads and change them often)
**New Info!!** Using Grapefruit Seed Extract (GSE):
~Make a mixture of 10 drops of Citricidal Grapefruit Seed Extract to one ounce of water. The use of distilled water to make your solution is very important. The chemicals placed in your local tap water to kill bacteria can reduce the effectiveness of the active ingredients in GSE.
~If thrush is not markedly improved by the second day, increase the mixture to 15, or even 20 drops of GSE per one ounce of distilled water. If after reaching up to at least 20, and a full day of hourly treatment with it, you see no improvement, I would consider using Diflucan. If you are prescribed Diflucan, continue to treat topically with GSE during the course of treatment.
~Use this solution with an absorbent swab on mom's nipples and baby's mouth once every hour during all waking hours. Swab baby's mouth prior to nursing and mom's nipples after nursing. Applying it to baby's mouth prior to nursing will help them to avoid the possibility of baby associating the bitter taste with nursing.
If diaper area is affected, put the same strength solution into a spray bottle or swab as above at every diaper change.
~If the infection is particularly rampant or you are having difficulty getting rid of it, mom may need to take acidophilus or GSE capsules to get rid of it systemically.
~GSE solution can also be used in laundry or as a surface cleaner to kill yeast hiding and waiting to multiply again.
~It may be necessary for Mom to eliminate sugar from her diet until the yeast infection is gone.
~If treatment with GSE seems to leave your nipple area dry, I suggest applying a light coating of Vitamin E oil in the following manner: First apply the GSE solution, allow that to dry or use a hairdryer to dry it completely, then apply a light coating of Vitamin E oil. I would suggest doing this 3 to 4 times a day until the dryness is gone. It should only take a couple of days to show significant improvement. The Vitamin E oil should absorb into the skin thoroughly prior to the nursing following the application. I'm a big fan of Lansinoh, but do not use it when dealing with thrush, because it provides a moisture barrier that is counterproductive to getting rid of thrush. (from www.drjaygordon.com)
~Nystatin oral suspension drops may be prescribed for oral treatment, Nystatin cream for diaper rash. Use for the full duration prescribed, do not stop just because symptoms are no longer visible. Be sure to apply oral drops after a feeding and do not feed or give drinks for 45 minutes afterward.
~Other anti-bacterial or anti-fungal treatments are also available.
In my personal experience, Nystatin is great for treating it here and now, but does nothing to prevent re-infection. Many antibiotics will also kill probiotics--good bacteria-- that help keep your body balanced, and will likely make it come back worse. The most important way to treat it is to treat everything, and follow these guidelines for at least a week after symptoms are no longer visible. There is no real explanation as to why some babies get thrush and others don't, or why it may be a recurring problem or a one-time event. The above notes are a combination of information from medical professionals, research and personal experience.
Other suggestions are welcomed, and please remember, this is just from one mom to another and is not an attempt to give or replace medical diagnosis or advice.