Polyenes for treating thrush

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Polyenes for treating thrush


Generic Name

Nystatin is placed directly on the white patches caused by thrush.

How It Works

Polyenes stop the growth of the yeast that causes thrush. This gives the body's immune system a better chance to destroy the yeast.

Why It Is Used

Polyenes are usually used to treat thrush in infants.

Doctors sometimes suggest nursing mothers treat their nipples with a polyene to prevent the infection spreading to their nipples.

How Well It Works

Nystatin works best when it comes in direct contact with the affected area. For infants, treatment should be continued for at least 48 hours after the white patches have gone away.

Most babies and young children can be cured with this type of medicine.1 Babies who have problems that weaken the body's immune system may need other medicines.

In persistent or recurrent infections, treatment may need to be continued beyond the normal treatment period.

Side Effects

The most common side effects are:

  • Nausea.
  • Vomiting.
  • Diarrhea.

See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)

What To Think About

Nystatin works best when it comes in contact with the yeast that causes thrush. So be sure to apply the medicine to both sides of the mouth. Swish the medicine around in your mouth for as long as possible before swallowing or spitting out.

Because nystatin preparations contain sugar, which can cause cavities, the person should rinse his or her mouth 5 to 10 minutes after taking the medicine.

Complete the new medication information form (PDF) (What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this medication.



  1. Weinberg A, Levin MJ (2007). Candidiasis section of Infections: parasitic and mycotic. In WW Hay Jr et al., eds., Current Pediatric Diagnosis and Treatment, 18th ed., pp. 1240–1243. New York: McGraw-Hill.


By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Susan C. Kim, MD - Pediatrics
Specialist Medical Reviewer Thomas Emmett Francoeur, MD, MDCM, CSPQ, FRCPC - Pediatrics
Last Revised April 14, 2010

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.