Thrush is a fungal infection which can cause a problem in the nipples and breasts of breastfeeding women. It can be painful.
You’re more likely to get thrush if you:
- have been taking antibiotics – these make it easier for the thrush organisms already present in the body to increase in numbers and cause infection
- have had nipple damage.
If you have thrush, the main symptom is pain in the nipples and breasts.
- You may have a burning, stinging or itching on or around the nipples.
- The pain may continue after the breastfeed is finished.
- Nipples are tender to touch.
- Breasts often ache – this may be a stabbing or shooting pain, which radiates through the breast and sometimes into the back.
- Nipples may not show any signs of thrush, or:
- they may appear reddened or shiny
- very occasionally a white rash may be seen.
Your baby may or may not have signs of thrush in their mouth or on the bottom.
- Thrush in the mouth looks like a thick white coating on the tongue.
- Sometimes white spots are seen inside the cheeks.
- Thrush on the bottom can look very sore with a bright red rash and spots.
If you have thrush, it is a good idea to see your doctor or midwife for treatment.
You and your baby will need to be treated at the same time, to ensure you don’t re-infect one another.
The usual treatment is:
- Your baby will be given a liquid antifungal medicine to take orally (eg, Nystatin), with a cream for the bottom.
- You will be given a topical treatment for your nipples.
- You may need to take an oral antifungal treatment to clear thrush completely.
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