Yeast or Bacterial Infection of the Nipples?

  Did you know that yeast and bacterial infections of the nipples have similar symptoms? Sometimes a bacterial infection of the nipples can be misdiagnosed as thrush (yeast). 

But the good news is that breastfeeding is still recommended and safe while treating both of these conditions! 

S. aureus is the most common bacterial infection in the nipples and can be the cause for chronic breast and nipple pain. S. aureus is also what causes mastitis, so treatment is crucial. According to the Journal of Human Lactation (Eglash, Plane, Mundt, 2006), about 50% of nursing mothers with consistent breast and nipple pain tested positive for S. aureus. 

To help prevent the spread of an infection, always make sure you wash your hands, any toys, pacifiers, bottles, pump parts, etc, when coming into contact with the infected area. Wash your clothes and blankets etc, in hot water. 

A yeast infection can also present as a vaginal infection, jock itch, nail itch, or ring worm. Family members can spread it back and forth, so good hygiene and treatment can help prevent passing it between one another. You baby can also develop a yeast infection and is usually present as a diaper rash or as fuzzy white patches in the babies mouth. 

To help prevent spread and reinfection, keep the area clean and dry. Change your breast pads often, and let your nipples air dry between feedings. Thrush likes to live in warm, moist environments. 

Gentian Violet can be used to treat both bacterial and yeast infections of the nipples and doesn’t need a prescription. Consult a IBCLC before starting any treatments.

Dietary changes can also help prevent yeast infections. Cutting down the amount of sugar you eat, adding a probiotic to your diet as well as vitamin C can all help combat yeast infections. 

If symptoms don’t improve, a prescription from your doctor is needed. There are topical ointments as well as oral antibiotics that can treat both yeast and bacterial infections. These are safe to use while breastfeeding.

Treatment usually lasts 2 weeks. If the infection is bacterial than treatment can take 4-6 weeks. 

These infections are normal and happen frequently with breastfeeding moms and babies! If you are experiencing any symptoms of a nipple infection such as: burning pain in your nipples, shooting pains throughout your breast, stabbing pain that radiates to your shoulders, red, itchy, flaky, or shiny nipples, small blisters or white spots on your areolas or nipples call an IBCLC!