Updated: May 22, 2019
What is oral thrush?
Oral thrush or Candidiasis is caused by a usually harmless but opportunistic fungus called Candida Albicans.
This guy is a normal resident of our gut flora and when everything is in balance, Candida doesn’t cause any harm.
However, when the immune system is weak or there is gut dysbiosis, there is overgrowth of Candida which is called as thrush. When this appears in the mouth it is called as oral thrush.
Diagnosing oral thrush in babies
Thrush in babies is usually a clinical finding, something that the mother, pediatrician or midwife first observes. There is a white curd like (cottage-cheese like) coating in the mouth and the upper palette. Naturally, these white patches gradually turn yellow then green and then fall out in chunks leaving behind a red ulcerated area.
Babies who start to show symptoms of thrush usually have problems latching and feeding due to pain and discomfort. The baby may also have diarrhoea, esophageal reflux or abdominal colic.
Causes of thrush in babies
In majority of cases, Candida is transmitted from the mother to the baby during vaginal birth. The mother may have had subclinical/ clinical vaginal thrush and that is transmitted to the baby.
Only small percentage of babies who harbor the fungus show symptoms of thrush indicating that it is more about the babies’ constitution (or susceptibility) that causes thrush than the fungus itself.
Those born preterm have a lower immune status and higher chances of getting thrush. Also, mothers or babies who receive antibiotics have a higher chance of getting thrush due to gut dysbiosis.
Also in many cases, because of breastfeeding, the mother and baby pass the infection to each other cyclically and hence treating both the mother and baby is essential.
Antifungals are prescribed for treating thrush usually Nystatin or Fluconazole, for both mother and baby. It could take anywhere between 1-4 weeks for the infection to resolve. In addition babies alo experience side effects like stomach upset, diarrhea, nausea which might make feeding even more difficult. To add to the problem, anti-fungals cause gut dysbiosis making the body susceptible to other diseases eventually.
Also, conventional medicine only removes the fungus but does not address the constitution (susceptibility) of the baby as mentioned before.
A mother came to me with her 10 day old baby complaining of white curd-like coating on the tongue, difficulty in latching and breastfeeding and excessive crying. The baby had also lost a lot of weight due to lack of feeding. She said the nurse had overlooked the white coating initially as milk residue and it had grown within a few days. Clinical diagnosis of thrush was immediately apparent. The mother also suffered from nipple pain during nursing.
Taking the symptoms into consideration, they both were given borax 6c. I also advised her to apply coconut oil liberally on the tongue and on her nipples. It not only soothes the area but also has anti-fungal properties that help with the healing process.
Follow up: Within a few hours of giving the remedy, the white coating became yellow then green and then started falling off. Another dose was prescribed after which the baby started spitting out the candida. Within a day the entire tongue and mouth was clear barring a few red ulcerated patches which cleared off after 2 days.
The mother also reported improvement in nipple pain within the first 2 doses.
Homeopathy is extremely gentle and effective in treating oral thrush in babies. It not only rids the infection, but it also improves immunity and susceptibility whereby reducing chances of recurrence. Also, it has absolutely no side effects and is easy to administer.
This Purple coat blog is intended for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace medical advice. Since discussing all possible medical scenarios is beyond the scope of this blog, individuals are requested to seek professional advice from us or their primary physician before initiating any treatment, diet plan or exercise routine.
About the author
Dr. Shruti is a homeopath and general physician with a special interest in pregnancy and childbirth. She has started a support group on facebook “Natural birth movement India” with the aim of creating a safe environment for Indian women to discuss natural birth options and the best ways to achieve it.