A thrush simply means yeast infection that appears as white patches in the skin.  It may appear in the oral cavity or in the vaginal area.  This is caused by a yeast known as Candida, that is normally found in the body but may grow out of control if the immune system becomes weak.

The following have a higher predilection in acquiring oral thrush:

  • Babies, because their immune system is still not fully developed
  • Older people, because they have weakened immune system brought about by aging
  • People taking steroids, because the drug itself decreases the number of white blood cells in the body, which are important in the production of the T and B cells.
  • Those with immunodeficiency syndromes, such as HIV, also have weak immune system because these diseases attack the body.

Oral thrush appear as white patches that stick to the tongue and the inside of the mouth.

In babies, oral thrush appear as white, cheesy curd-like patches in the tongue, associated with uncontrollably cry and decrease in feeding.  In the event that this appears in the baby’s tongue, it is advised that the parents do not try to scrape it off, as it may cause bleeding in the tongue.  Parents should bring their child in a doctor right away, so that the appropriate medication is given.


In infants, the symptoms of oral thrush may include:

  • White patches inside the mouth and on the tongue that look like cottage cheese or milk curds. This is usually mistaken for milk or formula.  When scraped or rubbed, these may bleed.
  • Sore mouth or tongue and/or difficulty of swallowing
  • The infant may refuse to eat, which can be mistaken for lack of hunger or poor milk supply.
  • If the infant is unable to eat because of a sore mouth or throat, he or she may act fussy.
  • Diaper rash, which may develop because the yeast that causes thrush may be present in the infant’s stool.

In adults, symptoms of oral thrush may include:

  • A burning feeling in the mouth and throat.
  • White patches that stick to the mouth and tongue, with tissues around the patches to appear red, raw, and painful.
  • A bad taste in the mouth or difficulty tasting foods.


The doctor will ask about the patient’s medical history and will make a thorough examination of the mouth.  The doctor may also order a KOH test, in which, one of the white patches is scraped, dyed with KOH, and examined under a microscope.  Fungal culture may also be done when a diagnosed case does not respond to prescribed medicines.




If the child with a mild oral thrush is bottle-fed, you may only need to clean the milk bottles and the pacifiers regularly.  Cleaning the child’s mouth with a clean moist cloth, will also help.  On the other hand, if the child is breastfed, the mother must cleab her nipples after breast-feeding, and apply lanolin lotion, which may help relieve nipple soreness.

Adults and children

Most often, the doctor will prescribe antifungal medication, which comes in several forms, such as lozenges, tablets, or liquid that you swish in your mouth then swallow.  If the patient has weakened immune system, the Candida infection may become resistant to many medications; hence, a drug known as Amphotericin B is given.  However, this drug is only given if the fungi is resistant, as it may cause some serious side effects.

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