Okay, so we all know that when you’re having any issues with breastfeeding, the first step is to call your doctor or a lactation consultant. BUT, there’s also the other side of breastfeeding issues: The “lived it, tried it, and let me tell you what worked for me” side. If you feel like you’ve been struggling with something for a while, sometimes the best thing to do is ask other women, “what worked for you?” Especially when it comes to thrush.

Thrush can be very difficult to treat. Yeast replicates every 90 minutes. That means that you may have suppressed it, but if you haven’t killed it, it comes back in an hour and half. And it loves dark, warm, moist, sugary places like babies’ mouths and leaking nipples inside of wet nursing pads or bras. Sounds delicious, eh?

If you’re nursing every 2-3 hours, you and your baby are passing it back and forth, and then you’re hiding your nipples away (since most of us don’t live in nudist communities) for the little yeast critters to party.

And it hurts, burns, and makes you want to cry. At my worst, I felt like my cracked, bleeding nipples had been sun burnt and every time baby latched on, someone was tugging, scratching, and twisting at my “sun burnt” skin. It makes me cringe just thinking about it.

So, here’s the inside scoop on getting rid of thrush.


  • Expose your nipples to sunlight. Sit in a chair in the sun outside or by a window. Do it! Seriously, do it!
  • Wipe your nipples with a diluted white vinegar solution (about 1 tsp vinegar in 8 oz of water) after each feeding. Also, use a diluted salt water solution if you have cracks and cuts. This may sting but it will kill the yeast and clean out any other bacteria that may be trying to get in.
  • Change your nursing pads very often and don’t use reusable pads.


  • Gentian Violet is a deep purple dye that can be used both on your nipples as well as in the baby’s mouth. However, because it stains, I’d use it as a last resort. More info.
  • You can buy probiotics for both mother and baby. I see this listed often but never used them myself for thrush.
  • Grapefruit Seed Extract is also a natural treatment that can be used by both baby and mother.
  • Antifungals such as lotramin (clotrimazole) which is used to treat athletes foot and jock itch and monistat (miconazole) which is used to treat vaginal yeast infections can both be applied to the nipples but should be used under doctor supervision.


  • If you are nursing, you must treat the baby’s mouth to avoid sharing it, even if the baby doesn’t have symptoms. Typically, a pediatrician will prescribe Nystatin.
  • Diflucan is an oral medication and, in my case, was necessary to help get the yeast under control.
  • All Purpose Nipple Ointment (APNO) is a compounded medication and I needed a prescription for it. Ask your doctor. If they haven’t heard about it, ask them to look it up. This stuff was amazing! More info.


  • Use Lanolin or Expressed Milk while nipples are infected. This will keep moisture in and make healing more difficult.
  • Be lazy about changing pads, cleaning nipples, clothes, or bottles, or applying ointments. It may be exhausting but the opportunistic little yeast critters are waiting for you to get lazy.
  • Stop treatment because symptoms appear to be gone. Unless otherwise prescribed by a doctor, continue using treatments for least 10-12 days after symptoms have gone away.
  • Get discouraged. Sometimes it goes away and comes back. Dust yourself off and try again. Once your child reaches about 6 months, and his/her immune system is more developed, you’ll probably be thrush-free. If you can help it, don’t stop breastfeeding.
  • Ignore serious symptoms. If you get a fever or have other more serious symptoms, call the doctor. For me, thrush led to cracked nipples which led to infection and mastitis. Antibiotics were necessary.

For more information, here are some good links:

Breastfeeding Inc. Candida Protocol

KellyMom Thrush Resources

La Leche League Thrush Resources

If you’re in the trenches, hang in there!