When we talk about thrush, candidiasis, mycosis, or yeast, we are always talking about fungi. You will often hear about a baby with thrush or fungal infection. But they are all the same thing. That said, how can we be sure it’s a fungal infection, and what do you do when it occurs?
Candida, or thrush if you prefer, does not grow on healthy skin. The presence of fungi in babies under two months of age is very, very frequent. We live with fungi in our environment, a common yeast for humans. The problem is that they have shown up in the wrong place and cause ailments for the baby and then the breastfeeding mother.
A breastfed baby will often have a white tongue, but not a fungal infection.
There are two types of infections that can occur in babies. It can either be an infection acquired in utero or when passing through the vaginal canal during childbirth called congenital candidiasis. Or it can be an infection acquired after birth, which is called neonatal candidiasis. In the latter case, a damp diaper with alkaline pH from urine promotes the development of a candidiasis infection.
How can you know if it’s a fungal infection? Let’s start here…In fact, many parents and health professionals will say that the baby has thrush by looking at their tongue. WRONG! A breastfed baby will often have a white tongue but not have a fungal infection. However, while it’s not always easy, sometimes white patches can be seen between the gum and lower lip. It looks a bit like cottage cheese. So how can you see it? Infection occurs through the mouth, then descends the intestinal tract to the anus. This is the spot where we most frequently see the presence of a fungal infection. Small bright red or white pimples around the anal opening, which are called satellite lesions. They tend to expand their perimeter by creating severe redness (diaper rash). These pimples or buttocks or vulva wounds cause a burning sensation when in contact with urine and stool. The baby will cry as a consequence. The faster you act, the easier it is to solve.
In the case of a breastfeeding mother, she can also feel pain in her nipples, a burning sensation, without noting anything in particular on her nipples. She may also have wounds that don’t heal. Her nipples may also be redder like they are irritated. One this is certain. If the baby has a fungal infection on its bottom, they have one in their mouth, and the mother is also likely to be infected. This is why we treat the mother if the baby has an infection, even if she doesn’t have symptoms when examined. If we don’t, the infection is likely to reoccur, and the treatment will be ineffective.
As a first step, you have to act preventatively. You have to examine breastfeeding techniques and correct latching problems to avoid injuries that can open the door to infection (damaged skin or nipples). Then, how do you solve a fungal infection problem? For the baby, you absolutely need to wash their nipples and pacifiers and avoid dampness as much as possible. Change their diaper frequently, dry their buttocks when changing diapers, and apply an antifungal cream like Canesten or Monistat 3 times a day for 10 days. Even if it seems to have disappeared, finish the 10 days, or it can return quickly. If they have severe redness and a bit of swelling, you should use Monistat since it’s also an anti-inflammatory cream. These two creams can be found in pharmacies, along with Nilstat, Mycostatin, and Miconazole. If there is severe redness, you can first apply the antifungal cream and then use a barrier cream after to avoid repeated irritation of the wound from urine and stool.
For mothers, you also have to treat the nipples. Apply a cream (Canesten, Monistat or others based on recommendations such as Jack Newman) to your nipples 3 times a day for 10 days, before and after breastfeeding your baby. Before, so the baby can suck your nipples with the applied cream to treat the fungal infection in their mouth. And after to treat your infection. The cream will treat your nipples and prevent reinfection. If there’s a mouth infection, Nystatin syrup can be used under prescription, so speak to your health professional.
Gentian violet can also be recommended by health professionals, following the recommendations to the letter to ensure effectiveness and avoid irritations or mouth ulcers that can occur over time. Don’t be surprised if your nipples and the baby’s mouth are also purple! 😊 It’s normal, and you won’t look like an ET for long.
If you have itching or a burning sensation when urinating, you can also treat it with Monistat vaginally. If the symptoms increase after three days of treatment, you should see your doctor for a full exam.
Here are other articles related to baby care:
- Postnatal Baby Care
- Heat and Cradle Cap (in french only)
- Baby Colic
- Baby and Hiccups
- Our Baby is Tanned
The Baby Expert