Yeast Infection Under the Breast: Signs and Treatments
Thrush is a common infection that can happen while breastfeeding. Learn the causes, signs, and symptoms behind this infection, as well as how to treat it, so you can feel better sooner.
Candida is a type of yeast that can be found naturally in your vagina, gut, mouth, and even on your skin. It’s especially active where there are warm, dark, and moist skin folds, such as under your breasts. While it’s not uncommon for breastfeeding moms to experience a yeast infection under the breasts, it is important to treat it before it leads to additional complications.
Causes of Yeast Infections While Breastfeeding
A breast yeast infection occurs when too much Candida is present under the breast, causing an imbalance of healthy bacteria and microflora (microscopic algae and fungi). An infection called candidiasis, or yeast infection, develops as a result.
Breast Yeast Infection Symptoms
A breast yeast infection can cause a condition called intertrigo, which is a rash that develops between the folds of the skin. The rash can appear on the skin beneath your breast, but can also be found around your breasts and on your nipples. If you’re experiencing an itching, burning, and/or painful rash under or around your breasts, you may have developed a breast yeast infection. Be sure to have this rash examined by your doctor for further evaluation and care.
What a Breast Yeast Infection Rash Looks Like
An intertrigo rash brought on by a breast yeast infection will appear red or reddish-brown and possibly raw looking. You may also notice cracked or crusty skin around the breast or patches of small round bumps that ooze and emit a foul odor.
Breast Yeast Infection Treatment
A mild yeast infection can clear up on its own in a few days. However, a more severe infection can take up to two weeks to resolve if not treated and could lead to further complications such as pain, inflammation, and skin infection. If you have a breast yeast infection, you can first try treating it with over-the-counter medications like the antifungal clotrimazole and hydrocortisone cream to reduce redness and swelling.
If an over-the-counter medication doesn’t seem to be helping or symptoms worsen, you should consult your doctor, who can prescribe a more potent antifungal.
Though professional research and studies around home remedies for breast rashes and yeast infections are minimal, some moms anecdotally recommend the tips below to relieve symptoms commonly associated with breast yeast infections:
- Coconut Oil. Contains naturally occurring antifungal properties and can be applied directly to the affected area.
- Apple Cider Vinegar. Add a half cup of apple cider vinegar to a warm bath and soak the affected area for 20 minutes.
- Oregano Oil. Inhibits the growth of Candida; add a few drops to a carrier agent such as coconut oil or olive oil and apply to the rash.
These remedies may (or may not!) be helpful in relieving your unique symptoms. However, they should not take the place of a consultation and attention from a medical professional to resolve a yeast infection under or around your breasts.
Fluconazole Use While Breastfeeding
Your doctor may prescribe a triazole antifungal agent called Fluconazole. As a breastfeeding mom, it’s only natural that you may feel concerned about taking any medication, in the event that it could pass through your milk to your little one. You’ll be relieved to know that the American Academy of Pediatrics considers Fluconazole safe for use while breastfeeding. While it does pass through your milk, the amount your baby may receive is far smaller than the amount you’re taking.
There are some simple steps you can take to prevent future breast yeast infections. These include:
- Drying your skin completely after a bath or shower.
- Avoid wearing tight clothing. Instead, opt for looser-fitting clothes made from breathable fabrics that won’t trap moisture next to your skin.
- Wearing a comfortable bra that provides good support.
- Increasing your intake of probiotics, such as yogurt, and decreasing the amount of sugar and carbohydrates you eat.
As always, continue to take good care of yourself, eat healthy, and make sure you’re getting plenty of rest. Most importantly, don’t stress about a funky rash. It happens to a lot of moms and is often just a temporary—and easily resolved—blip along your breastfeeding journey!