Thrush and Breastfeeding: Prevention and Treatment

Thrush can cause breast and nipple pain in breastfeeding women. Thrush can develop in the mouths of breastfed babies. When your nipples become cracked or injured, thrush infections can occur. This means the thrush-causing candida fungus can enter your nipple or breast. Thrush infections can also occur after a course of antibiotics has been completed by you or your child. Antibiotics may decrease the quantity of beneficial bacteria in the body, allowing the candida fungus to thrive and cause thrush.

Symptoms of thrush

Breastfeeding becomes extremely unpleasant for you, or your infant becomes unhappy and refuses to breastfeed, and this is often the first sign of thrush. Call your doctor and your baby’s doctor straight once if you observe any of the signs or symptoms listed below or if you suspect you or your baby has thrush. 

  • Breast and nipple pain: Nipple pain can be caused by thrush. You may have thrush if you experience burning, itching, pins-and-needles, or sharp, stabbing breast pain, or an ache deep in your breast. 
  • Inflammation (swelling): It’s possible that you have thrush if your nipples and areola are swollen and very red.
  • Skin changes: Your nipples may appear shiny or dry, and you may notice little blisters or white patches on the skin around the nipples.
  • Diaper rash: One of the signs is a fungal diaper rash. A red, lumpy rash on your baby’s bottom indicates a yeast infection. 
  • Irritation in the mouth of your baby: You may not notice anything if your infant has thrush in their mouth. However, thrush can sometimes emerge as white patches in your baby’s mouth or a white coating on her tongue. 

How to prevent and manage thrush?

You can utilize the following strategies: 

  • Eat a well-balanced diet and limit your sugar consumption.
  • Eat yogurt every day, or take probiotics or a Lactobacillus acidophilus tablet to boost your good bacteria levels.
  • Between feedings, keep your nipples dry. Allow your nipples to air dry by being topless for several minutes after breastfeeding.
  • Protect your breastsWhen your bra or clothes brush against your breasts, the nipple pain might become unbearable. Breast shells can help you heal by protecting your nipples and relieving pain.
  • Attempt to lower your stress levels. Chronic stress can have a negative impact on your immune system. (See the best stress supplements)
  • Everything your baby puts in their mouths, such as pacifiers and teething toys, should be sterilized.
  • Hands should be washed frequently, especially after breastfeeding or changing diapers.
  • If you’re going to use breast pads, be sure they don’t have plastic liners. These can trap moisture and make you more prone to thrush.
  • Use medications: If either you or your infant exhibits symptoms of thrush due to breastfeeding, you and your baby should be treated with medications.


Treatments for breastfeeding mothers

Because thrush can be passed from parent to child, your doctor may advise treating both you and your child. If you have thrush on your nipples, areolas, or breasts, your doctor will most likely prescribe a prescription antifungal cream. The infection should go away in about a week, but if it doesn’t, contact your doctor.

Treatments for thrush in babies

Antifungal medications (such as nystatin) can be used topically to the inside of the mouth and tongue to treat oral thrush in newborns. In severe cases, oral fluconazole (Diflucan) by dropper may be administered. If you have thrush on your breasts or your baby’s bottom, you may need to use a different medicine.

Medications for thrush


Yeast or fungal infections are treated with antifungal medicines. You and your child will both require medication, but the medication you give your child will be different from yours. Your partner and additional children may also require a prescription if necessary. 

  1. Nystatin cream: Nystatin cream is an antifungal cream that you apply to the damaged areas of your breasts and nipples’ skin.
  2. DiflucanDiflucan (fluconazole) is a medication that needs to be taken orally. If you’ve tried nystatin or other antifungal creams and they haven’t worked, your doctor may prescribe Diflucan. They may also recommend it if the yeast infection is inside your breasts and an antifungal cream won’t reach it or if you have repeated fungal infections. Diflucan treatment can continue for two weeks or longer, and it is safe to nurse while taking this medicine.
  3. Monistat or Gyne-LotriminIf you have a vaginal yeast infection in addition to other signs and symptoms of thrush, you should treat it as well as your breasts and baby. You can get an antifungal vaginal cream or suppository from your doctor, or you can buy one over-the-counter at your local drugstore.
  4. Nystatin oral suspension: Your baby’s doctor will most likely write you a prescription for nystatin liquid to put in your baby’s mouth.
  5. Antifungal diaper rash creams or ointments: You might be able to treat a fungal diaper rash on your baby’s bottom with an antifungal cream or ointment like Mycostatin (nystatin) or Lotrimin (clotrimazole), but you should consult your baby’s doctor first. 
  6. Gentian violet: Gentian violet is a liquid that you dab on your nipples and into the mouth of your infant. It’s a natural thrush cure available over-the-counter in natural food stores, but it shouldn’t be used for more than seven days. Before using this supplement, speak with your baby’s doctor.
  7. APNO: Dr. Jack Newman’s all-purpose nipple ointment (APNO) is a combination of antifungal, antibiotic, and corticosteroid treatment. It can be used to alleviate nipple pain, edema, and infections caused by yeast or bacteria. 


Thrush is highly contagious and can spread from a breastfeeding woman to her nursing child. You can treat it with either topical or oral medicines. It can also be slowed down by good hygiene and healthy behaviors. It is a difficult bird to tame, and it may take a few weeks for the drugs to take effect and eliminate the yeast completely.

Moreover, yeast could be hiding in places other than your breasts and your baby’s mouth. Even if you think you’ve effectively treated the illness, the yeast can reappear if these regions are left untreated. Yeast can also thrive on pacifiers and toys, making it easy for it to spread to your other kids. When it comes to thrush and breastfeeding, you may have to put in some effort to get rid of it. Follow the medicine directions for both you and your baby, make an effort to clean anything your breasts and your baby’s mouth come into contact with, and most importantly, be patient.

Talk to your doctor or a lactation consultant if your thrush doesn’t seem to be getting better or keeps reappearing.

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