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Alternative Treatments for Thrush in Your Baby

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New mothers are typically anxious and worry about everything. This is natural. Sometimes you panic over nothing and other times you have a legitimate reason. If you see white spots in your baby’s mouth when they are laughing, you may think its remnants of milk. You look closer and realize that the white spots are actually patches of a white rash on the tongue and under the lips. Your baby has thrush and now you have to learn what it is and how to treat it.

What is thrush?

Thrush is essentially an overgrowth of yeast in your baby’s mouth.  Everyone has Candida, or yeast, in their body. It lives in the intestines, mouth, and genital area; all warm, moist environments where it thrives. Normally, you are not aware that yeast is in your body; however, if there is an overgrowth, it appears as white patches.  When yeast is visible in the mouth, it is usually called thrush. Thrush can appear in adults’ mouths but is typically found in infants.

Causes of thrush

It is disconcerting to think that your baby has a yeast infection in the mouth. However, you are associating this with the yeast infections you have probably had many times in your life. Although they are similar, they are not identical and can occur for many reasons. One thing that is known is that it does not spread from baby to baby. All the following can be causes:

Antibiotics:  Antibiotics kill the normal bacteria that live in the mouth. This normal bacterium keeps overgrowth of yeast from occurring; therefore, when the antibiotic kills off the good bacteria, the yeast proliferates.

No cause: Sometimes there is no identifiable cause; the yeast simply grows too fast and takes over.

Nursing: Yeast infections can be passed from mother to baby when nursing.

Thrush is not harmful; it is a nuisance that can be painful and making nursing or sucking a bottle painful.

 How to Identify Thrush

Before you start a treatment plan for thrush, you need to identify it and make sure that is what it is. If you are unsure, your pediatrician can identify it for you. Some of the symptoms that are characteristic of thrush include:

Location – Thrush is yeast in the mouth. It appears on the inside of the cheeks, on the gums, the tongue and possibly the lips. It will typically appear in more than one place, and you may see a white coating on the tongue.

Duration: Thrush does not come and go. It takes several weeks to heal. If the spots disappear and come back, they may be milk patches.

Facial Redness: Babies with thrush often have reddish cheeks.

Diaper Rash: Yeast can present as diaper rash. You may think it is the typical diaper rash; however, if it is yeast, it will not respond to traditional diaper rash treatments.

Bleeding: Severe thrush may cause bleeding of the gums and mouth.

Fussiness: The pain associated with thrush is worse after feeding.

If your baby has these symptoms, the spots on the cheeks and gums are most likely thrush. You can treat it from home using several different methods. If your baby’s thrush does not respond to these treatments, you should see your pediatrician for a prescription medication.

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Treating Thrush

The following are options for curing the thrush without the intervention of prescriptions. If these do not provide your baby relief, your pediatrician can prescribe Nystatin. Nystatin can have some side effects (diarrhea, nausea, bloating, increased resistance of yeast to treatment), so alternative treatments may be preferable on the outset. Treatment options you can try at home include:

  • Acidophilus: This is an active ingredient in yogurt; however, you can get it in a powder form and use it to treat thrush. Make a paste and apply it to your baby’s mouth. You can also use a cotton swab to apply yogurt to the thrush areas. You will need to do this several times daily until the thrush has disappeared.
  • Plantain Seeds: Cover plantain seed in water and allow soaking overnight or until they swell. The result is a jelly-like mixture that you can apply to the thrush patch. Plantain seeds are also called psyllium seeds. You should be able to find them in your local health food store.
  • Baking Soda: Put one teaspoon of baking soda in8 oz. of water and stir until dissolved. Wipe the inside of your baby’s gums with a cotton ball or cotton swab. Use a fresh swab each time you apply this solution. You should wipe the mouth after each feeding.

You may have to repeat treatment more than one time to cure the thrush completely. It is a persistent condition that may return several times before being completely healed. However, there are some things you can do to reduce this possibility, including:

  • Wash all baby toys in hot soapy water. You should do this every day.
  • Sterilize all bottles, nipples, and pacifiers after each use. This may be inconvenient, but it is necessary until the thrush is eradicated.
  • Avoid giving your baby anything with sugar until after the thrush is gone. Yeast feeds on sugar.

Finally, if your baby continues to have thrush, you may want to treat your family for yeast. Someone in the home could be a carrier. Also, if you are nursing, you must treat yourself so that you do not keep passing it back to the baby.

Thrush can be hard to cure; however, persistence and consistent treatment will eventually bring relief. If you find that your baby has multiple instances, ask your pediatrician about using Nystatin. As a mother, it can be difficult to know which treatment option is best. You have to decide for yourself if you want to see a doctor first or try home remedies. You should not have a problem with home remedies if you observe your baby for any adverse reaction. Keep these tips nearby so you know what your options are when the next outbreak of thrush occurs.

This article is for information purposes only and is not an attempt to give medical advice of any kind. The information in this article is not intended to replace a physician’s care.

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