Thrush in Nipples While Breastfeeding: Symptoms and Treatment

Thrush in nipples while breastfeeding is a common issue that many new mothers face. Thrush is a yeast infection that can cause pain and irritation, as well as other symptoms. In this article, we will discuss the symptoms of thrush in nipples while breastfeeding. Read on to learn more about this condition and how you can treat it!

Breast & nipple thrush

Thrush was a fungal infection created by organism Candida albicans. This problem is most often diagnosed as it can occur within the nipple or breast tissue or elsewhere in the body. Early diagnosis and treatment of nipple and breast thrush can improve your breastfeeding experiences. A healthy early assessment will greatly enhance your experience with breastfeeding.

What is thrush?

Thrush is due to overgrowth of the yeast fungus Candida albica. It thrives in hot or damp circumstances often showing as diaper rash. Thrush is also visible in babies born to mothers who are premature – or at just 37 weeks – and in those who receive antibiotics. This common problem should be easily treated but it can make breastfeeding difficult for babies.


Anti-fungal medication is used to treat yeast or fungal infections. Both you and this baby need medication. Your partner and your kids could need medication as well if needed. It is important to use the medication exactly as prescribed and as long as recommended. If you feel better immediately after taking the drug and stopped taking it then the yeast infection can return. If there’s a feeling of inability to breathe before stopping the dosage the infection may come back.

Thrush and breastfeeding

If you had breast thrush you could breastfeed if you got one. Some difficulties though might require attention. If you feel pain and you can tolerate it, you should breastfeed anyway. You might pump your breast milk in between feedings until it feels ok. Your baby might also be fussy and resist breastfeeding if you still don’t feel well enough for it.

How do I prevent thrush while breastfeeding?

You can avoid this by keeping things clean, dry and that prevents the growth of harmful yeast whenever possible.

Signs and symptoms

The most commonly detected first indications of having thrush are when breastfeeding becomes very painful for you or when your baby becomes fussy and refuses to breastfeed. Tell everyone on board that there is thrush; a common occurrence but that it may be a sign of an infection.

How do I get rid of yeast?

Candida grows rapidly so it can be difficult for it to be eradicated. Yeast can easily spread among the family members. Call your doctor and the baby’s doctor so you can be diagnosed and treated quickly. Please get in touch with your doctor before you start the healing process.

Signs of thrush while breastfeeding

Signs of nipple thrush include:

  • sore lumps
  • areola shiny skin
  • burning sensation
  • red skin

How do I know if I have thrush?

If you are having symptoms be sure to talk to your doctor to confirm if you do have thrush. A doctor or health care provider may diagnose it by seeing the baby’s thrush symptoms and your nipple or breast pain. Thrush can be diagnosed during a physical examination. If you don’t have signs of this yeast-like infection, then there is less chance that you have been infected.

What does the start of thrush feel like?

Thrush can be extremely painful. You may have thrush if you experience burning, itching, needles, or sharp, stabbing breast pain, nipple pain, as well as deep breast pain.

What does thrush look like?

For you, it can have:

  • Inflammation (swelling) may be a sign of a yeast infection if your nipples and areola are swollen and bright red.
  • Skin Nipples may look glossy or flaky, and you could discover small blisters or white patches on the skin surrounding them.

For your baby:

  • Diaper rash (nappy rash) One of the indicators of thrush is a fungal diaper rash. A yeast infection on your infant’s bottom presents as a red, bumpy rash.
  • Baby’s Mouth If your baby has thrush in their mouth, you may not realize it. However, white patches or a whitish coating on your baby’s tongue might be signs of thrush.

How long does the pain last?

This will vary from person to person but the medications should be used for 2 weeks to eliminate all yeast.

Treatment for Thrush in Nipples While Breastfeeding

It’s natural to be concerned and a bit scared about infecting your baby if you’ve just been diagnosed with thrush. After all, it’s understandable to be anxious and apprehensive about spreading an illness to your infant.

But more than likely your baby has already been exposed to it.

Fortunately, you can continue to breastfeed while you are treating for the infection. Breast milk can kill bacteria and yeast whereas formula does not.

Can thrush on nipples go away on its own?

Thrush is very difficult to go away on its own. It is much easier to treat it right away than to let the infection go on too long.

What can happen if thrush is left untreated?

Breastfeeding can be difficult, frustrating, and even painful if left untreated. Thrush causes both mother and child to suffer through painful nursing (and bottle feeding for bottle-fed babies).

Thrush can affect both the mother’s nipple and baby’s mouth during breastfeeding, although it is possible for only one person to be infected.

Do I have to throw away breast milk if I have thrush?

It is not recommended to store expressed milk if you have thrush. Breast milk can neutralize the yeast but it won’t kill it. The longer it has been stored, the more likely the yeast and bacteria can grow back.

best breast milk storage bags

Prevention of Thrush in Nipples While Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding moms can prevent thrush by keeping their nipples dry and clean.

Change breast pads often and sanitize pacifiers, bottle nipples, and breast pump often.

Allow your nipples to air dry after nursing.

Wash your nursing bra often.

wash your hands before and after you breastfeed.

Take a probiotic for healthy bacteria to kill the yeast.

Limit sugar intake and have a balanced diet.

The Importance of Proper Latching to Prevent Thrush

Always meet with a lactation consultant to ensure you have a proper latch.

When to Seek Medical Attention for Thrush

If you are having a hard time getting rid of the thrush infections, speak to both your doctor, and your baby’s doctor to prescribe anti-fungal medications.

Alternative Therapies for Treating and Preventing Thrush

Oral thrush in your baby’s mouth can be treated by taking an oral gel prescribed by your doctor and swishing it around in your baby’s mouth for a few seconds.

A breastfeeding supplement containing over 50 billion lactobacillus acidophilus, the same bacteria that is found in yogurt and probiotics will help to prevent yeast infections from occurring.

You may use gentian violet as a liquid to swab your nipples and the mouth of your infant. You can buy it at natural food stores, but it should not be used for more than seven days.

For your baby’s diaper your health care professional can prescibe an antifungal cream.

For breast and nipple thrush, a breastfeeding mother can use Nystatin cream. You’ll apply nystatin cream, an antifungal agent that you apply to the infected region of the skin directly.


Thrush is a yeast infection that can cause nipple pain and irritation, as well as other symptoms. In this article, we have discussed the main signs of thrush during breastfeeding. It’s natural to be concerned about spreading an illness to your infant but you should know that breast milk can kill bacteria and yeast whereas formula does not help prevent the spread of the thrush infection. Be sure to wash and santize all pacifiers and bottles as it can transfer to baby’s mouth and to change breast pads often.

Be sure to read 15 Ways on How to Unclog a Milk Duct and 6 Steps to Get a Correct Latch for Breastfeeding

References (links) (thrush) (thrush and candida) (challenges)

About the author

Lacy Reason is a highly experienced and compassionate lactation counselor, who has dedicated her career to educating and supporting new mothers on their breastfeeding journey.