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A mild fungal overgrowth in the mouth, thrush results in whitish deposits that look like cheesy white curds on the sides of the tongue and the inner cheeks. It is often confused with milk staining, which is a thick, homogeneous, white buildup found only on top of the tongue. Thrush generally affects young babies and rarely shows up in kids over a year old.
Thrush does not cause much discomfort or interfere with feeding, and it usually resolves on its own. It is slow to grow and slow to disappear, with or without treatment, and the whole process can take a few weeks. If it lingers, your doctor will prescribe an oral antifungal suspension such as Nystatin. Dip a cotton swab in the suspension and rub it liberally onto the lesions a few times a day until they clear. Some people swear by acidophilus, an alternative treatment that is supposed to restore the normal flora of the mouth, but the condition tends to resolve on its own, so it’s difficult to evaluate what helps and what does not.
While thrush isn’t a big problem for the baby, it can trouble nursing mothers, because the fungus that causes the condition may irritate the breast [See: Breast-Feeding Problems].