Caring for Our Children (CFOC)

Chapter 7: Infectious Diseases

7.5 Skin and Mucous Membrane Infections

7.5.12 Thrush Thrush (Candidiasis)

Children with thrush do not need to be excluded from group settings (1). Careful hand hygiene and sanitization of surfaces and objects potentially exposed to oral secretions including pacifiers and toothbrushes is the best way to prevent spread (1). Toothbrushes and pacifiers should be labeled individually so that children do not share toothbrushes or pacifiers, as specified in Standard The presence of children with thrush should be noted by caregivers/teachers, and parents/guardians of the children should be notified to seek care, if indicated.

Treatment of thrush may consist of a topical or an oral medication. Most people are able to control thrush without treatment. Evaluation by a primary care provider of people with severe or prolonged symptoms may be indicated.

Thrush is a common infection, especially among infants (1). Thrush is caused by yeast, a type of fungus called Candida. This fungus thrives in warm, moist areas (skin, skin under a diaper, and on mucous membranes). Thrush appears as white patches on the mucous membranes, commonly on the inner cheeks, gums, and tongue, and may cause diaper rash. The yeast that causes thrush lives on skin and mucous membranes of healthy people and is present on surfaces throughout the environment. An imbalance in the normal bacteria and fungi on the skin may cause the yeast to begin growing on the mucous membranes, appearing as white plaques that are adherent. Intermittent thrush may be normal in infants and young children. People with exposure to moisture, those receiving antibiotics, or those with an illness may develop thrush (2).
Occasionally, thrush might occur in several individuals at the same time or within a couple of days of each other. Consultation with a health care professional and the local health department may be sought when several individuals have these symptoms.
Center, Early Head Start, Head Start, Large Family Child Care Home, Small Family Child Care Home
RELATED STANDARDS Toothbrushes and Toothpaste Cleaning and Sanitizing Toys Cleaning and Sanitizing Objects Intended for the Mouth Inclusion/Exclusion/Dismissal of Ill Children
  1. Aronson, S. S., T. R. Shope, eds. 2017. Managing infectious diseases in child care and schools: A quick reference guide, 4th Edition. Elk Grove Village, IL: American Academy of Pediatrics.
  2. American Academy of Pediatrics. Thrush (Candidiasis) In: Kimberlin DW, Brady MT, Jackson MA, Long SS, eds. Red Book: 2018 Report of the Committee on Infectious Diseases. 31st Edition. Itasca, IL:  American Academy of Pediatrics; 2018: 264