The classic symptoms of thrush include a nipple rash, white patches in the baby’s mouth and breast or nipple pain. Thrush is caused by a fungus called Candida Albicans. This is the same organism responsible for women’s vaginal yeast infections and also infants’ yeast diaper infections. Candida Albicans are present in and on all bodies, but an infection occurs when the amount increases beyond normal. Yeast grows well in warm, moist, dark,sugary environments.
For mothers, signs of thrush include:
- Red, itchy, flaky, cracked or burning nipples
- Sore nipples that are unresponsive to basic treatment
- Vaginal yeast infections
Babies will often have white tongues from milk that are unrelated to thrush. Therefore a white tongue alone is not used to diagnose thrush. Signs of thrush for babies include:
- White spots inside the cheeks
- White spots inside the lips
- Yeast diaper infections which appear as persistent small red bumps in diaper area and leg folds.
How is Thrush Treated?
A small amount of thrush in a baby’s mouth is very common and not necessary to treat if there are no feeding problems and mom is not symptomatic. Thrush is usually treated, after discussion with your healthcare provider, if mother is symptomatic or baby is having trouble feeding. Usually, treatments include both topical and oral antifungals such as nystatin or fluconazole.
Because yeast grows well in warm, moist environments it is important to look at your environment as well:
- Make sure breast pads and burp clothes are changed frequently
- Consider boiling pacifiers, and teething toys
- Avoid sugary and fermented foods
- Eating garlic and yogurt or taking probiotics like acidophilus or lactobacillus may also help
Nipple and breast pain, especially if a burning sensation exists, is often treated initially as thrush. These symptoms can also occur with bacterial breast infections and recurrent trauma If you have persistent breast pain please make an appointment to be evaluated .