Oral thrush refers to a condition the lining of your mouth is accumulated with the fungus, Candida albicans.
Oral thrush often causes the development of creamy white lesions in the mouth, usually on the tongue or your inner cheeks. These lesions may cause pain and also bleed subtly when scraped. Oral thrush can also extend to the gums, the roof of your mouth, and the back of your throat or your tonsils.
Even though oral thrush can develop in anyone, babies and people use dental appliances, inhaled corticosteroids or have a suppressed immune system are more prone to it. If a person is healthy, this condition is a minor issue; however, for people with weakened immune systems, oral thrush may be more severe and difficult to heal.
Signs and symptoms
Symptoms of oral thrush may not be noticeable during the initial stages. Some of them might include:
- Creamy white lesions
- Cottage cheese-like lesions
- Pain and discomfort
- A fuzzy or cottony feeling in the mouth
- Slight bleeding if lesions are scraped
- Loss of taste
- Redness and cracking at the corners of the mouth – people wearing dentures are more likely to experience this
In severe cases, the oral thrush may also spread and develop in the esophagus. Symptoms may include difficulty swallowing and feeling of food being stuck in your throat.
Breast-feeding mothers and infants
Aside from white lesions in the mouth, infants may also show behavioral changes such irritability and it may also be difficult feeding them. The infections can be passed on from the mothers to the infants during breast feeding.
Women may experience the following symptoms:
- Reddened, itchy nipples
- Flaky or shiny skin on the darker circular region around the nipple called the areola
- Unusual pain while nursing
- Stabbing pain within the breast
When to seek medical attention
See your doctor if your baby has white lesions inside the mouth. If oral thrush occurs in older children or adults, seek medical attention. Underlying conditions such as diabetes may also cause oral lesions.
Along with the prescribed treatment method suggested by your doctor, you must also follow these self-care tips to resolve symptoms of oral thrush:
- Maintain good oral hygiene. Brushing at least twice and flossing at least once a day may help prevent oral lesions and many oral health problems as well. It is important that you keep replacing your toothbrush until symptoms subside. If you have problems with using a brush manually, consider using an electric tooth brush instead. Avoid using oral sprays and mouth wash as they may alter the flora in the mouth. Avoid sharing toothbrushes.
- Saltwater rinses. Rinse your mouth with ½ teaspoon of salt mixed with 1 cup of warm water. Spit the mixture and do not swallow.
- Nursing pads for breast feeding mothers. For breast feeding mothers with fungal infections, nursing pads may prevent the fungus from contaminating your clothes. Avoid using pads with plastic barriers as they may encourage the growth of the fungus. If you are not using disposable nursing pads, make sure you wash our bras and nursing pads in hot water mixed with bleach.