The Identification and Treatment of Thrush

By Cheryl Taylor, CBE

Thrush is a yeast infection that can present itself in your baby’s mouth or on your nipples. When thrush is in either of these locations, you may also find the yeast deep in the breast tissue, vaginally or on your baby’s diaper area. When the yeast infection presents itself, it may be in all or one of these locations.

Symptoms of thrush may include:

  • Unusually pink or red nipples.
  • Cracked or bleeding nipples
  • Itching or burning nipples
  • A shooting pain deep within the breast
  • Pain that continues throughout a nursing session
  • White patches inside the baby’s mouth. (the inside of his cheeks is a “thrive” zone and an easy to identify location)
  • Yeast infections in other locations (diaper area, vaginal)

If you or your infant contract thrush and present yourself to your Pediatrician, you are likely to be sent home with a prescription for Nystatin. It is the most commonly used medication when dealing with thrush. There is a liquid medication for giving to the baby, and a cream that can be placed on your nipples. Other treatments used are Gentian Violet and Diflucan.

My reservations with beginning with the above medications are that the Nystatin liquid contains sugar to make it palatable enough that baby will swallow it. However, yeast feeds on sugar. This may be the reason why it is often not effective. Gentian Violet is effective, but stains skin purple for several days. I have some lovely photos of my twins with purple faces! Diflucan is very effective, but can cause intestinal distress in mom and/or baby. For these reasons, I prefer to begin with Grapefruit Seed Extract as the first line of defense. I have found that the use of Grapefruit Seed Extract as recommended almost always brings rapid relief and an elimination of the yeast imbalance.

Grapefruit Seed Extract is a broad-spectrum antimicrobial compound synthesized from the seeds and pulp of grapefruit. It is an extremely potent and effective broad-spectrum bactericide, fungicide, antiviral and antiparasitic compound. Tests have shown that GSE is dramatically more effective than Colloidal Silver, Iodine, Tea Tree Oil and Clorox bleach against five common microorganisms. In studies performed by Dr. John Mainarich of Bio-Research Laboratories in Redmond, WA, samples of each of the common antimicrobials or sanitizing agents were evaluated for effectiveness against Candida albicans, Staphylococcus aureus, Salmonella typhi, Streptococcus faecium and E. coli. The other antimicrobials tested were considerably less effective than the GSE.

GSE is extremely effective in the treatment of thrush. I also find it to be the easiest place to start. If used diligently, it typically will clear up thrush within a couple of days.

Treatment of thrush with GSE

  • Make a mixture of 10 drops of Citricidal Grapefruit Seed Extract to one ounce of water. The use of distilled water to make your solution is very important.  The chemicals placed in your local tap water to kill bacteria can reduce the effectiveness of the active ingredients in GSE.
  • IF thrush is not markedly improved by the second day, increase the mixture to 15, or even 20 drops of GSE per one ounce of distilled water.   If after reaching up to at least 20, and a full day of hourly treatment with it, you see no improvement, I would consider using Diflucan.  If you are prescribed Diflucan, continue to treat topically with GSE during the course of treatment.
  • Use this solution with an absorbent swab on mom’s nipples and baby’s mouth once every hour during all waking hours. Swab baby’s mouth priorto nursing and mom’s nipples after nursing.  Applying it to baby’s mouth prior to nursing will help them to  avoid the possibility of baby associating the bitter taste with nursing.
  • If diaper area is affected, put the same strength solution into a spray bottle or swab as above at every diaper change.
  • If the infection is particularly rampant or you are having difficulty getting rid of it, mom may need to take acidophilus or GSE capsules to get rid of it systemically.
  • GSE solution can also be used in laundry or as a surface cleaner to kill yeast hiding and waiting to multiply again.
  • It may be necessary for Mom to eliminate sugar from her diet until the yeast infection is gone.

If treatment with GSE seems to leave your nipple area dry, I suggest applying a light coating of Vitamin E oil in the following manner: First apply the GSE solution, allow that to dry or use a hairdryer to dry it completely, then apply a light coating of Vitamin E oil.  I would suggest doing this 3 to 4 times a day until the dryness is gone.  It should only take a couple of days to show significant improvement.  The Vitamin E oil should absorb into the skin thoroughly prior to the nursing following the application.  I’m a big fan of Lansinoh, but do not use it when dealing with thrush, because it provides a moisture barrier that is counterproductive to getting rid of thrush.

Since learning of the powerful antimicrobial that Grapefruit Seed Extract is, I have always kept a bottle in my home for many uses.

For more information on GSE:

For prevention of thrush while taking antibiotics:

There are times over the course of nursing when a nursing mother needs to take antibiotics.  While taking antibiotics, good bacteria are destroyed  along with the bad. The absence of the good bacteria, which usually keep yeast in reasonable balance within the body, is what can leave a nursing dyad with thrush.   There are several options that may help to avoid this imbalance:

  • Take acidophilus/bifidus capsules with doses being as far away from the dose of antibiotics as is possible.  There is dairy free acidophilus available for those needing dairy free products.  Check labels for ones requiring refrigeration.
  • Take Florastor, which can be taken with the antibiotic dose.
  • Eat yogurt with active live cultures.  Make sure you get unsweetened yogurt as you don’t want to feed the yeast with sugar.

All of these probiotics help to reintroduce to the gut the good bacteria that will help to regain control of the yeast overgrowth in the system.

If the infant or child is the one taking the antibiotics, they usually fare better at avoiding thrush while taking antibiotics because breastmilk has a bifidus factor.  It promotes the growth of Lactobacillus, a harmless bacterium, within the gut.  Growth of this bacteria helps to eliminate the overgrowth of yeast.  A toddler or child can also take acidophilus.  The powder itself has a pleasant creamy taste and most are happy to lick it off your finger, take it with spoon or you can mix it into a food.

69 thoughts on “The Identification and Treatment of Thrush”

  1. Thank you so much for this detailed remedy. My 2month old daughter and I are treating a relatively mild case of thrush. She doesn't have any spots in her mouth, and the nipple/breast pain is not enough to disrupt breastfeeding, but she does have a pretty bad diaper rash. We just started using the GSE solution 24 hours ago (10 drops/oz), so obviously no noticeable improvement yet. I'm wondering if it's okay to use something to soothe her diaper area after we apply the GSE and dry with a hairdryer. I've read that organic extra-virgin coconut oil is anti-fungal. We also have Mother Love Diaper Rash & Thrush salve and Country Comfort. I'm wondering if it's okay to use any of those with the GSE? I just want to make sure it doesn't diminish its anti-fungal action. Her skin is very pink/red, but no cracking, peeling or bleeding. We are also both taking probiotics, and I'm not eating white flour or refined sugars.

    Thanks!

    1. The key with any ointment and thrush would be that you wouldn't want to make a moist environment that stays on the skin in which the yeast can grow easily. A small amount may be enough to be soothing without being so much that it provides a moisture barrier. One solution is to use Dr. Newman's All Purpose Nipple Ointment. If you use commercial baby wipes it could be irritating the skin and exacerbating the problem. Eliminating white flour and refined sugars makes a big difference!

  2. Hi- I have a quick question, I bought GSE but it the liquid concentrate . Do I still use the 10 drops with one ounce or do I cut it in half because it says concentrate .

    Thank you in advance.

  3. I started taking Diflucan yesterday. Can I also take Grapefruit Seed Extract in addition to the Diflucan? I've been dealing with this thrush for months, and I'd like to give it a big blow (sort of a belt and suspenders approach) to try to get rid of it once and for all. It is ruining my breastfeeding experience.

      1. After a week of Diflucan, GSE, and a virtually sugar/dairy free diet my thrush FINALLY improved dramatically. I continued the treatments for 7 days after I was symptom free, and I think I am DONE with this horrible nightmare! Thank you! I don't know if it was the Diflucan, GSE, diet or all combined, but I'm so happy!!! I was on Nystatin for weeks, and it did NOTHING!

  4. Is it possible for thrush (candida overgrowth) to be the culpret of recurrent mastitis? What is the appropriate dosing of Diflucan to get rid of thrush for good?

  5. I have GSE tablets–each one is equivalent to 15-20 drops GSE solution. Are these acceptable for treatment if taken orally, or should I buy the liquid solution and apply topically? If it is ok to take orally, what would you recommend as a daily dosage?

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