Mother breastfeeding baby 

Nipple yeast and thrush – or candidiasis – refers to an overgrowth of yeast in mom and baby. It is not serious, but it may cause discomfort or pain for mother and baby.  

Signs of Nipple Yeast

Only your healthcare provider can diagnose nipple yeast and thrush. If you have it, you may have one or more of the following signs:  

  • Itchy, burning nipples. 
  • Flaky nipple skin. 
  • Bright pink skin on the breast where baby’s mouth touches during feedings. 
  • Shooting pains in the breast during or after breastfeeding. 
  • Symptoms of a vaginal yeast infection.

Your baby may have one or more of the following signs: 

  • Creamy looking white areas inside the mouth. 
  • A film in the mouth on gums or tongue. 
  • Diaper rash with raised patches or shiny skin in the diaper area. 
  • Sudden feeding problems, pulling off or crying. 
  • Gassiness or colic.

Treatment of Nipple Yeast

Nipple yeast and thrush is only one of many common skin problems caused by an overgrowth of yeast. You may be more likely to develop nipple yeast and thrush if you or your baby have recently taken antibiotics, you have a history of vaginal yeast infections, you have diabetes, or if you have broken skin on your nipple. Your healthcare provider will need to treat both you and your baby with an antifungal medication, such as: 

  • A prescribed or over-the-counter product to apply to your nipples. 
  • A solution to swab inside your baby’s mouth after every feeding. 
  • An ointment or cream for his diaper area. 
  • A drug you swallow.

Nystatin has been prescribed for thrush for many decades. Unfortunately, it does not work as well as it once did. Today, 40% of those treated with Nystatin do not get better. But there are other antifungal drugs that work very well.

Keep breastfeeding while you and your baby are being treated. To reduce pain, start on the least sore breast first and switch breasts after your milk begins flowing. With the right treatment, the pain should be almost gone within three to seven days. If not, tell your doctor and ask about another treatment. 

If needed, ask your lactation consultant to share details on other over-the-counter, herbal and alternative treatments with you and your doctor.

What You Can Do to Prevent Nipple Yeast and Thrush From Returning:

Yeast is hardy and can grow in many places. While you and your baby are being treated: 

  • Boil daily for 20 minutes anything that goes in baby’s mouth (such as bottle nipples, pacifiers, teething toys), anything your baby sucks on or chews, and any breast pump parts that touch the milk. 
  • Wash hands often—both yours and your baby’s. 
  • If you use nursing pads, use the disposable kind and replace often. 
  • Be sure to follow the treatment for the recommended time.

This is general information and does not replace the advice of your healthcare provider. If you have a problem you cannot solve quickly, seek help right away. Every baby is different. If in doubt, contact your physician or other healthcare provider.

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