What is Thrush?
Thrush is the common name for a yeast infection on the nipples of breastfeeding women. It’s also possible to get thrush in the mouth, so thrush happens to babies if their mothers have it on their nipples. Like all yeast infections, thrush can be passed back and forth so it’s important for mothers and babies to be treated for it.
Symptoms of thrush in breastfeeding mothers include redness, tenderness and discomfort while breastfeeding. In the mouth, thrush looks like large white patches that don’t come off. It’s uncertain whether babies experience any discomfort if they get thrush in their mouth, though many experts say babies are crankier during a thrush infection.
Thrush in Babies
One of the reasons thrush is so hard to get rid of is because you have the treat the baby, and treatments have to be mild. Talk to your baby’s pediatrician about using a mild mixture of baking soda and water (about 1 teaspoon to 8 ounces of water) and applying it to the affected area. You could also try putting yogurt on the affected area, but only after checking with your pediatrician and only if your baby is old enough for dairy.
Try Genetian Violet
Genetian violet is an older remedy that works well in fighting thrush. You can get it from your care provider or a pharmacist. Simply paint your nipples with it until the symptoms go away. Speak to your child’s pediatrician if you want to give your baby genetian violet to get rid of thrush in their mouth.
Be aware genetian violet will stain anything it comes in contact with, including your nipples and your baby’s mouth.
Wash your Nipples
After feeding your baby, try washing your nipples with a water vinegar solution. Mix one tablespoon of vinegar into about a cup of warm water. Let your nipples air dry or gently dry with a clean towel.
Keep your Nipples Dry
Yeast thrive in warm, moist environments which is why it can thrive in your baby’s mouth and on your nipples. After feeding your baby allow your nipples to air dry. Avoid using the plastic disposable breast pads as these can keep your nipples moist. If you do use breast pads, use the cotton, non-disposable kind, make sure they stay dry and change them frequently.
Anything and everything that comes in contact with your nipples and your baby’s mouth should be washed thoroughly, ideally in boiling water. Make sure you clean pacifiers, bottle nipples and baby toys. If you can’t boil them, wash the things in hot soapy water. Wash bras, sheets, washcloths and clothes in hot soapy water with a cup of vinegar to get rid of any yeast hiding in your clothes. If you’re using a breast pump, sterilize it well with boiling water or purchase new parts that come in contact with your breasts and breast milk.
Dump the Breastmilk
If you pumped breastmilk while you or baby has a thrush infection, you’ll have to throw away the milk. If you don’t, you could end up re-infecting your baby, and then re-infecting yourself.
Treat any Vaginal Yeast Infections
Unfortunately yeast can become systemic. If you have thrush, chances are good you have a vaginal yeast infection. See Natural Treatments for Yeast Infections for some natural ways to treat a vaginal yeast infection.
Eiger, Marvin MD & Olds, Sally Wendkos. The Complete Book of Breastfeeding. Workman Publishing Company Inc, 1999.
Sears, Martha RN & Sears William, MD. The Breastfeeding Book. Little, Brown and Company, 2000.
The information in this article should not be considered medical advice. The information in this article is not meant to treat, diagnose, prescribe or cure any ailment. Always check with your physician before taking any products or following any advice you have read on Brighthub.com. Always consult your doctor before you start, stop or change anything that has been previously prescribed. Certain herbs and holistic remedies are unsuitable to take if you are pregnant or nursing and must always be cleared by your doctor before use.