Oral thrush is a fungal infection of the mouth caused by a common organism – candida albicans. While this type of candida is normally present in small quantities in your mouth and gut, it only becomes annoying once it grows out of proportions – a process called candida overgrowth.
This condition is most common in people with a weak immune system, either from birth, or as a result of an immune disease such as cancer or AIDS. While it’s very common in babies of up to 10 weeks, it’s not frequent in children.
However, if your child does get it, there’s nothing to worry about, as the treatment is pretty easy to apply and it usually cures the condition within a few days.
In this article, we’ll take a look at the most common causes and symptoms, and then we’ll show you the most commonly-used treatment for oral thrush in children.
Oral thrush is caused by the overgrowth of a fungus called candida albicans, that’s present in most people’s mouth and intestinal gut. This fungus is normally kept in check by the rest of the organisms in the mouth, but it may grow out of proportion if the immune system is weakened, or if proper oral hygiene isn’t respected.
In children, the most likely cause of oral thrush is a longer bout of antibiotics. This kills the probiotics that keep candida colonies from overgrowing, thus causing thrush. It’s really important that you offer your children plenty of probiotics – unpasteurized yogurt and other dairy products, for instance – to prevent candida overgrowth.
Another possible cause is asthma medication. If your child uses inhaled steroids, they’re more likely to get thrush.
A series of diseases are also associated with repeated bouts of oral thrush. The most common are AIDS, cancer, and diabetes. Having any of these will predispose your children to thrush, and they’ll usually require special treatment, so as to avoid any negative drug interference.
When candida albicans grows to massive numbers, you get those nasty-looking white patches that are commonly associated with thrush.
These patches won’t normally hurt, and they can be taken away with a spatula or scraped away with your fingers. If you do that, you’ll notice that the tissue beneath is swollen and may bleed, so it’s better to just leave them alone. They’ll go away with treatment, anyway.
Another common symptom is soreness of the mouth and difficulty swallowing, especially if the infection has spread to the throat. If it goes beyond that, your child is likely to experience fever and sickness, especially if their immune system is weakened.
Anti-fungal treatment, either applied locally or taken as pills, has been shown to be highly efficient in treating candida. However, since children may develop resistance to the most commonly-used candida pill compound (fluconazole), consulting a specialist is highly recommended.
While gels containing miconazole and pills containing fluconazole are the most widely-spread thrush treatments, caution is advised if there’s a possibility of these drugs interfering with other medications. Particularly for more severe cases, the use of an echinocandin such as caspofungin or micafungin may be the best option, as other drugs may lead to unpleasant secondary effects.
Opting for home remedies may also be safer than taking drugs, since there’s a smaller possibility of interference, and they’re usually less demanding for the child’s organism. Some essential oils have been shown to kill candida albicans and lower the spread of thrush. The most commonly-used is coconut oil. You’ll have to apply extra-virgin coconut oil on the affected areas with a cotton swab, usually 2-4 times a day, until you’re happy with the results.
Oral thrush is not a common condition in children, unless they’re suffering from one of the immune diseases we’ve mentioned above. If you make sure they keep their mouths clean and their diets balanced, you shouldn’t have any problems.
However, if they happen to get oral thrush, you should contact your doctor from the very first symptoms, as the treatment is easier the earlier it’s started. Follow your doctor’s instructions and your child should get rid of thrush in no time.