Oral candidiasis: how it occurs in children

Oral candidiasis: how it occurs in children

Oral candidiasis usually manifests as white patches on the tongue or inside the cheeks. If the infection spreads, it can affect the upper part of the mouth and reach the gums, tonsils, or the back of the throat.
Oral thrush is less of a problem if it affects a healthy person, but if the immune system is weak, the symptoms can be severe and more difficult to control.

Causes

Anyone can get oral thrush, but it more often occurs in infants and older adults , because they have compromised immunity, as well as in certain diseases or those who take certain medications.

Candida is a fungus that lives with us as part of our microbiota . In normal situations it does not cause disease because its own defenses and the bacteria that coexist with it in the mouth and digestive system prevent its excessive growth. However, in certain circumstances characterized by a lowered immune system or an altered balance of the bacterial flora, Candida grows and can cause an infection .

The most frequent causes in which this can occur are:

  • Newborns because they have an immature immune system.
  • Lowered defenses or immunosuppression secondary to pathologies such as: HIV infection, cancer treatment , congenital immunodeficiencies…
  • Prolonged treatment with oral, intravenous or inhaled corticosteroids in the case of asthmatic or COPD patients.
  • Prolonged treatment with antibiotics that damage the bacterial flora, allowing the growth of fungi.
  • Use of dental prostheses with poor oral hygiene.
  • Malnutrition
  • Some chronic diseases , such as diabetes.

Risk factor’s

People who may be at higher risk of Candida infection are those who have:

  • Weakened immune systems.
  • Diabetes
  • Vaginal candidiasis: it is caused by the same fungus that causes oral candidiasis and can be transmitted to the baby.
  • Medications: corticosteroids and antibiotics .
  • Other oral conditions: Wearing dentures, especially upper teeth, or having conditions that cause dry mouth.

Symptoms

Children and adults

  • White , creamy, raised lesions with a cottage cheese-like appearance on the tongue, inner cheeks, and sometimes the roof of the mouth, gums, and tonsils.
  • Redness, burning, or swelling that can make eating, eating, or swallowing difficult.
  • Mild bleeding if the lesions are rubbed or scratched.
  • Cracking and redness at the corners of the mouth.
  • loss of taste
  • Redness, irritation, and pain under dentures (this is called denture stomatitis ).
  • In severe cases, usually linked to immunosuppressed patients, the lesions can spread to the esophagus causing candidal esophagitis. If this occurs, the patient may have difficulty swallowing and pain or a feeling that food is stuck in the throat.

Infants and lactating mothers

In addition to the typical white lesions in the mouth, infants may have trouble feeding and be fussy and irritable. They can transmit the infection to the mother during breastfeeding. The infection can go back and forth between the mother’s breast and the baby’s mouth.

Women whose nipples are infected with candida may have:

  • Unusually red, tender, cracked, or itchy nipples (some women describe this as “like being stuck with needles”).
  • Shiny or scaly skin on the areola (external to the nipple).
  • Unusual pain during breastfeeding or sore nipples between feedings.
  • Shooting pains inside the breast.

When to see a doctor

If you suspect candidiasis, you should visit your family doctor or pediatrician (in the case of children).

Prevention

These measures can help reduce the risk of Candida infections:

  • Rinse your mouth with water or brush your teeth after using a corticosteroid inhaler.
  • Have proper daily dental hygiene
  • Remove your dentures at night and clean them properly daily.
  • Regular check-ups with the dentist.
  • Limit the consumption of foods that contain sugar as they can stimulate the growth of Candida.
  • Maintain good blood glycemic control if you have diabetes
  • Treat vaginal candidiasis as soon as possible.
  • Treat dry mouth.

What is the treatment of oral candidiasis?

In young people and adults, topical antifungal treatments are recommended as rinses that must then be swallowed. In babies, no treatment is usually necessary as it heals on its own in less than two weeks. But if it causes discomfort, you can wash the inside of your mouth and tongue several times a day with bicarbonate of water. If the response is not adequate, the pediatrician will assess treatment with antifungals.

What you should know…

  • Oral thrush is less of a problem if it affects a healthy person, but if the immune system is weak, the symptoms can be severe and more difficult to control.
  • Anyone can get oral thrush, but it is more common in infants and older adults, because they have compromised immunity, as well as in certain diseases or those who take certain medications.
  • In young people and adults, topical antifungal treatments are recommended as rinses that must then be swallowed. In babies, no treatment is usually necessary as it heals on its own in less than two weeks.
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