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Oral candidiasis in Infant/Neonate
See also in: Oral Mucosal Lesion
Other Resources UpToDate PubMed

Oral candidiasis in Infant/Neonate

See also in: Oral Mucosal Lesion
Contributors: Kiasha Govender MBChB, MMed, FCDerm, Anisa Mosam MBChB, MMed, FCDerm, PhD, Ncoza C. Dlova MBChB, FCDerm, PhD, Susan Burgin MD
Other Resources UpToDate PubMed


Oral candidiasis, also called oropharyngeal candidiasis and commonly known as oral thrush, is a common cause of infection of the oral mucous membranes by Candida species, especially Candida albicans. It is common during infancy when the immune system and immune responses are developing.

Transmission of infection occurs either at the time of delivery during passage through the vaginal canal or after delivery during handling or breastfeeding by the mother. Neonates that become infected at the time of delivery usually present with symptoms between 2 and 4 weeks of age. Infection later on in infancy can result from repeated use of antibiotics or occur in infants with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection or a primary immunodeficiency syndrome.

Oral candidiasis appears in a number of clinical forms. The most common form is the pseudomembranous variety: white plaque formation typically appears on the tongue, lips, inner surface of the cheeks, and palate and can leave behind punctate bleeding and patches of reddened mucosa when scraped.

Candida at the corners of the mouth is known as angular cheilitis or perlèche. Crusting, small ulcers, or fissures can be present at the angles of the mouth.

The infant may be symptomless or may be generally irritable and show a decreased willingness to feed.

Related topics: Neonatal candidiasis, Diaper dermatitis candidiasis, Angular cheilitis, Congenital candidiasis


B37.0 – Candidal stomatitis

79740000 – Oral candidiasis

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Diagnostic Pearls

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Differential Diagnosis & Pitfalls

  • Aphthous stomatitis
  • Oral lichen planus – Usually reticulated and erythematous rather than plaque-like.
  • Migratory glossitis
  • Respiratory diphtheria – The membrane in diphtheria can be mistaken for candidiasis, although in diphtheria there may be hemorrhagic crusts around the mouth and nares.
  • White sponge nevus of the oral mucosa – There may be a family history of this very uncommon genodermatosis.

Best Tests

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Management Pearls

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Drug Reaction Data

Below is a list of drugs with literature evidence indicating an adverse association with this diagnosis. The list is continually updated through ongoing research and new medication approvals. Click on Citations to sort by number of citations or click on Medication to sort the medications alphabetically.

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Last Reviewed:09/04/2017
Last Updated:02/10/2023
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Patient Information for Oral candidiasis in Infant/Neonate
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Oral candidiasis in Infant/Neonate
See also in: Oral Mucosal Lesion
A medical illustration showing key findings of Oral candidiasis (Adult/Child Presentation) : Oral white plaque, Dysphagia, Oral burning sensation, Altered taste
Clinical image of Oral candidiasis - imageId=176995. Click to open in gallery.  caption: 'Small, flat, white papules on the dorsal tongue.'
Small, flat, white papules on the dorsal tongue.
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