Thursday, 19 November 2009

What is Oral Thrush?

Oral thrush is a very common infection in infants that causes irritation in and around the baby's mouth. It is caused by the overgrowth of the yeast candida albicans.

Most people (including infants) naturally have candida in their mouths and digestive tracts. The amount of candida in a person's body is controlled by a healthy immune system and some "good" bacteria. If the immune system is weakened (due to an illness or medicines like chemotherapy), the candida in a person's digestive tract can overgrow and lead to an infection. The same can happen to infants whose immune systems are not yet fully developed.

Sometimes candida overgrowth occurs after a baby has received antibiotics for a bacterial infection, because antibiotics can kill off the "good" bacteria that keep the candida from growing. Candida overgrowth can lead to vaginal (yeast) infections, diaper rashes, or oral thrush.

Oral thrush can affect anyone, although it's most common in infants younger than 6 months and in older adults. A baby with oral thrush might develop cracked skin in the corners of the mouth or whitish patches on the lips, tongue, or inside the cheeks that look a little like cottage cheese but can't be wiped away. Many babies don't feel anything at all, but some may be uncomfortable when sucking.

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