Thrush in Children: Care Instructions

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Thrush in child's mouth, with close-up of thrush on tongue and roof of mouth.

Your Care Instructions

Thrush is a yeast infection inside the mouth. It can look like white patches of milk, formula, or cottage cheese. But it is hard to remove. If you scrape the thrush away, the skin underneath may bleed. Your child might get thrush after using antibiotics. Often there is not a specific cause. It sometimes occurs at the same time as a diaper rash.

Thrush in infants and young children isn't a serious problem. It usually goes away on its own. Some children may need antifungal medicine.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

How can you care for your child at home?

  • Clean bottle nipples and pacifiers regularly in boiling water.
  • If you are breastfeeding, use an antifungal medicine, such as nystatin (Mycostatin), on your nipples. Dry your nipples after breastfeeding.
  • If your child is eating solid foods, you can massage plain, unflavored yogurt around the inside of your child's mouth. Check the label to make sure that the yogurt contains live cultures. Yogurt may help healthy bacteria grow in the mouth. These bacteria can stop yeast growth.
  • Be safe with medicines. Have your child take medicines exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor if you think your child is having a problem with any medicines.
  • It's important to get rid of any sources of infection, or thrush will come back. Items your child may put in their mouth should be boiled or washed in warm, soapy water.

When should you call for help?

Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • Your child will not eat or drink.
  • You have trouble giving or applying the medicine to your child.
  • Your child still has thrush after 7 days.
  • Your child gets a new diaper rash.
  • Your child is not acting normally.
  • Your child has a fever.

Where can you learn more?

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The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.