Children are highly susceptible to various infections. The most common of these are infections caused by bacteria and viruses. Though less frequently found, fungal infections also affect many children.
Of these, thrush – clinically known as oral or oropharyngeal candidiasis – can affect unweaned children, especially those under one years of age. Infants cannot verbalise the symptoms they are experiencing so it is suggested that a parent monitor them for signs of the illness.
An infant who has thrush can refuse to be fed even when hungry. The child’s tongue will be coated with a thick white layer that cannot be scraped off easily. The child will also have painful, red sores in their mouth. If you notice that your child has a white lesion on their tongue and is rejecting their feeder, there are a few remedies you can try at home before going to a doctor.
“If it is an emergency and you do not have any medicines at home, soothe your child’s mouth with a small piece of ice,” dermatologist Dr Farah told SAMAA TV on its programme Naya Din on Monday. “You can also apply a bit of honey on the inside of the mouth and leave it,” she recommended.
A baby who is exclusively breastfed can be given a spoonful of water every half an hour to provide relief, she said. For children older than six months, she said, adding yoghurt to their diet can provide relief to the digestive system.
You can also apply cucumber seeds to a baby’s tongue daily for one week to prevent the illness.
Dr Farah recommends massaging the tongue with ice if nothing else is available. “It’s important, however, that you get the child checked by a doctor for proper treatment,” she said.
In the same vein, Dr Farah advised against taking antibiotics without a doctor’s prescription.
“A lot of people keep cough syrups, syrups for fever, etc at home. Whenever a child has fever, they give them the syrup. Sometimes, this further exacerbates the condition. Whether you are a child or adult, if you have fever on and off, it is important that you get it checked by a doctor,” she advised.
A helpful guide to preventing infectious diseases in a country like Pakistan is to get basic medical tests done once every six months. Everyone should have a family physician whom they can refer to for diagnoses of illnesses they do not understand.