Posted February 6, 2013 in POSTPARTUM

How to treat newborn thrush naturally


An infection caused by yeast on nipples of nursing mother or in infant’s throat and mouth is referred to as thrush. Candida albicans is usually responsible for colonization in diaper area, vagina, intestine, mouth, throat, skin folds or and nipples of host. This may be due to weakened immune system, antibiotics or stress.

Newborn thrush can be problematic when it comes to good nursing. If baby’s positioning isn’t responsible for pain then consultation with a doctor, midwife, lactation consultant or pediatrician should be your next step as tender, pink, itchy, flaky, suspected newborn thrush may be the reason. The sooner it gets treated the better it is.

Symptoms of neonatal thrush:

  • Irritated red patches of skin in the creases of thighs, arm pits and neck of babies.
  • Sores or white patches inside the mouth, cheeks or tongue.
  • Discharge of white curds or paste substance in vaginal folds.
  • A diaper rash that maybe red with a pointed bump
  • Baby may become gassy.
  • If a mother has thrush on her nipples then at times baby may be free of signs and symptoms.

The biggest complication of neonatal thrush in babies is transmission to mothers via oral contact while breastfeeding. This leads to infection of maternal nipples that manifest as:

  • After a few weeks of childbirth, onset of sudden development of sore nipples.
  • Red shiny nipples with pinkish rash.
  • Itching, stinging, burning or cracking of nipples that may lead to bleeding from nipples in severe cases.
  • During feeding, feeling as if baby’s mouth contain pieces of broken glass.
  • Pain sensation when water hits the nipples.
  • Infection of vagina induced by yeast.
  • Sudden pain in either or both the breasts while feeding or after it. This indicates yeast infection that is secondary in the ducts of milk.

Mothers and babies both need to be treated at least for two weeks once all the symptoms are cleared.

How can you prevent re-infection of breast by neonatal thrush?

  • After nursing, make sure to rinse your nipples with cool water and then air dry as thrush needs moisture and sugar such as lactose in the breast milk.
  • Try to nurse from the least sore side. Short frequent feeding might help.
  • By insertion of clean finger in baby’s mouth break the suction first rather than letting the baby pop off the nipple.

General recommendations for home treatment:

  • Yeast growth advances in moist dark places so the best cure can be fresh air and exposure to sunlight.
  • Quit wearing bra as much as you can to air out the breast and nipples.
  •  Bras, towels and breast pads must only be used once; they should be washed in hot water.

How can you prevent yeast infection in neonates?

  • Try to keep baby’s bums dry and for that make sure to keep the baby diaper-less as often as possible. Change diapers frequently and use cotton covers or pure 100% wool while avoiding rubber pants.
  • Pronounced yeast growth is most commonly encountered in babies who are put on pacifiers or nipples of infected mother. If the use is necessary then make sure to boil the pacifiers for 20 minutes every day.
  • Maintaining good hygiene conditions may help a lot in prevention of spreading of thrush, such as in washing hands after changing diapers, touching baby’s mouth, your own nipples.
  •  Addition of one fourth cup of vinegar in rinsed water in laundry will help kill the yeast. Same thing should be done in case of cloth diapers or reusable breast pads.
  • Try avoiding all dairy products except yogurt, food containing yeast, sugar and excess fruit. Avoid baked items, heavy starches, honey, sugars, wheat, fruit juices. While treating the infection take fresh vegetables, meat, whole grains and beans. Include plenty of water in your diet to keep and enhance the supply of milk.

How to treat neonatal thrush naturally?

  •  By applying gentian violet liquid with a swab once a day for four days on inside of baby’s mouth improvement can be seen. Can also be used in diaper area.
  •  Lactobacillus bifidus supplements should be given to toddlers and infants, rather than the Lactobacillus acidophilus supplements, as bifidus keeps the yeast growth in check.
  •  Homemade yogurt is the best; however acidophilus yogurt can be second best. Add it to your diet, apply the yogurt on nipples and the inside of the baby’s mouth coating it after every feed. While doing so, avoid contaminating the yogurt.
  • Try using fresh garlic.
  • Nipples may be rinsed from apple cider vinegar which is raw and organic (1 tbsp vinegar dissolved in 8 oz of water). In case of severity it may sting a little.
  • After every feed, the insides of baby’s cheeks must be wiped, mouth and gums with a leveled tsp of baking soda dissolved in water to make a paste. Do the same for nipples.
  • Yeast growth can be disturbed by great amounts of Vitamin C.
  • Caprylic acid can also help if taken in accordance with directions.
  •  The seeds of grapefruit are made into a liquid and sold at stores that may also be used as a rinse.
  • Tincture of black walnut can be applied 2-3 times/day on nipples and on the insides of baby’s mouth. In severe stubborn cases the mother may take it internally 10-15 drops.
  • Tea made of Pau d’Arco will help to retard the growth of fungus.

Yeast diaper rash:

  • Few of the advices given above may work too in this case.
  • From tea tree oil (diluted), rinse baby’s bums. Do not take internal as this may lead to coma in children. Mothers have applied it on nipples too but it should be as little as 1tsp.  Removal by washing prior to breastfeeding is advised.
  • In the arms and thighs’ folds, on neck and bums sprinkle slippery elm bark powder. Wash and repeat the process few times a day. It absorbs moisture and provides soothing effect. In case of severity along with this, add goldenseal powder. Avoid using cornstarch or commercial baby powder.
  • By coating diaper rash of baby with clay of loose slippery elm, egg whites or elm gruel that is slippery, you can inhibit the oxygen supply for yeast growth. Before you diaper, let it dry in air.
  • Using zinc ointment and Epsom salt bath will quicken the healing process.

Charlotte Sanchez (CPM) is a Certified Professional Midwife and
Childbirth Educator of over 20 years