Thrush when breastfeeding

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, you will need 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.
  • These medications may be prescribed only by a doctor.

There are also other ways of treating thrush.  Discuss these with your doctor, midwife or pharmacist.

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