Thrush (Oral Candida Infection) (Child)

Adult hand giving infant liquid medication from dropper into mouth.Candida is a type of fungus. It is found naturally on the skin and in the mouth. If Candida grows out of control, it can cause mouth infection called thrush. Thrush is common in infants and children. It is more likely if a child has taken antibiotics or uses inhaled corticosteroids (such as for asthma). It may occur in a young child who uses a pacifier frequently. It is also more common in a child who has a weakened immune system.

Symptoms of thrush are white or yellow velvety patches in the mouth. These cannot be washed away. They may be painful.

In a healthy child, thrush is usually not serious. It can be treated with antifungal medicine.

Home care

  • Antifungal medicine for thrush is often given as a liquid or pills. Follow the healthcare provider's instructions for giving this medicine to your child. 

  • Breastfeeding mothers may develop thrush on their nipples. If you breastfeed, both you and your child should be treated to prevent passing the infection back and forth.

  • Wash your hands well with warm water and soap before and after caring for your child. Have your child wash his or her hands often.

  • If your child uses a pacifier, boil it for 5 to 10 minutes at least once a day.

  • Thoroughly wash drinking cups using warm water and soap after each use.

  • If your child takes inhaled corticosteroids, have your child rinse his or her mouth after taking the medicine. Also ask the child's healthcare provider about using a spacer, which can help lessen the risk for thrush.

  • Unless the healthcare provider instructs otherwise, your child can go to school or daycare.

Follow-up care

Follow up as advised by the doctor or our staff. Persistent Candida infections may be a sign of an underlying medical problem.

When to seek medical advice

Unless your child's health care provider advises otherwise, call the provider right away if:

  • Your child has a fever (see Fever and children, below)

  • Your child stops eating or drinking

  • Pain continues or increases

  • The infection gets worse

Fever and children

Always use a digital thermometer to check your child’s temperature. Never use a mercury thermometer.

For infants and toddlers, be sure to use a rectal thermometer correctly. A rectal thermometer may accidentally poke a hole in (perforate) the rectum. It may also pass on germs from the stool. Always follow the product maker’s directions for proper use. If you don’t feel comfortable taking a rectal temperature, use another method. When you talk to your child’s healthcare provider, tell him or her which method you used to take your child’s temperature.

Here are guidelines for fever temperature. Ear temperatures aren’t accurate before 6 months of age. Don’t take an oral temperature until your child is at least 4 years old.

Infant under 3 months old:

  • Ask your child’s healthcare provider how you should take the temperature.

  • Rectal or forehead (temporal artery) temperature of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher, or as directed by the provider

  • Armpit temperature of 99°F (37.2°C) or higher, or as directed by the provider

Child age 3 to 36 months:

  • Rectal, forehead (temporal artery), or ear temperature of 102°F (38.9°C) or higher, or as directed by the provider

  • Armpit temperature of 101°F (38.3°C) or higher, or as directed by the provider

Child of any age:

  • Repeated temperature of 104°F (40°C) or higher, or as directed by the provider

  • Fever that lasts more than 24 hours in a child under 2 years old. Or a fever that lasts for 3 days in a child 2 years or older.

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