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Thrush is a type of yeast overgrowth known as Candida albicans which affects a nursing baby's mouth and diaper area and the mother's breasts. The main symptom of oral thrush in infants is distinctive white patches coating the inside of the mouth and sometimes the tongue. These patches resemble cottage cheese and cannot be washed or wiped off. Oral thrush causes mild discomfort but can lead to a sore throat, nausea, or a loss of appetite. It is called esophagitis when it occurs in the throat. Diaper thrush usually grows on a preexisting diaper rash. For mothers, the symptoms of thrush include red, flaky nipples which are usually sore and itch. The nipples are often covered with white patches or small, white, hard blisters. There are often sharp, shooting pains in the breasts, and the breasts may be red or bright pink.

CAUSES

Candida albicans occurs naturally in the body in small amounts with a properly functioning immune system. Anytime the immune system is compromised an overgrowth of this yeast is likely. Antibiotics are one of the main causes because they kill the "good" bacteria in the body which keeps yeast growth at a minimum. This overgrowth can also be triggered by dampness and exposure to molds or even baking yeast.

PREVENTION

Proper Hygiene

1. Clean any household areas where mold can grow with vinegar and water or bleach.

2. Do not share bath towels and use them only once before washing.

3. Change breast pads at each feeding, and make sure you are using a brand that does not have a moisture barrier.

4. Boil anything that comes in contact with breast milk or the baby's mouth such as a breast-pump, bottles, bottle nipples, etc.

5. Wash hands after using the bathroom and after each diaper change.

6. Wash hands before touching the breasts or feeding the baby.

7. Rinse nipples with clear water and air dry if possible after feedings.

8. Rinse diaper area with clear water at each change and let baby's bottom air dry if possible.

9. Do not use plastic pants or diapers.


Diet

1. Cut refined sugars and white flour products out of your diet. Yeast feeds on sugar.

2. Eat lots of garlic and olive oil for their anti-fungal properties.

3. Avoid foods with yeast or mold in them such as cheeses, breads, and beer.


TREATMENT

If you suspect you or your baby may have thrush make sure you are taking all of the preventative measures above. In addition to these there are a few things you can do to get rid of the yeast. Do not discontinue breast feeding. Be sure to label any breast milk as yeast infected so that you will not use it after the yeast is gone and reinfect the baby.

1. Boil clothing, particularly diapers and bras, for five minutes.

2. Apply a mixture of 1 part vinegar and 4 parts water topically to the breast and let dry. If your baby refuses the breast then reduce the amount of vinegar.

3. Take vinegar and water baths.

4. Take 3 capsules or acidophilus 3 times a day or eat plain, low fat yogurt.

5. Feed your baby for shorter amounts of time more frequently.

6. Apply olive oil to your breast after each feeding.

7. Make a paste of baking soda and water and swab in the baby's mouth after feedings.

8. Restrict the baby's use of a pacifier.

If you see a doctor he or she may prescribe a topical treatment called Nyastin for your baby. It disrupts the enzymes that yeast needs to reproduce. However, it has side effects such as nausea, gas, and fatigue. You should definitely call your doctor is your child refuses to eat or drink, the symptoms get worse during treatment, or they last longer than 10 days.