Breastfeeding mothers are at a higher risk of developing breast yeast infection than others. Understanding its causes, symptoms, and preventive measures will help in addressing the problem effectively.
Yeast is a group of fungus, capable of infecting several parts of the body, including the mouth, tongue, skin (particularly in folded skin areas), nails, breast, and vagina. Also referred to as candidiasis, this infection may occur in all individuals, irrespective of the age and gender. Among the various species of yeast that infects humans, Candida albicans is found to be the most prevalent strain. In general, yeast thrives in the body surfaces without causing medical symptoms.
However, when there is abrupt changes in the body system and prevailing environment, it infects certain bodily areas, resulting in various symptoms. For example, breast yeast infection is most commonly manifested among lactating mothers. The reason behind this is frequent wetting of the nipples, thus creating a favorable condition for multiplication of the yeast.
The symptoms start with unusual tenderness and soreness of the nipples. The affected nipples may become dry and itchy. At times, the infection may be present on the underside of the breast where the skin folds. Other notable symptoms include itching, redness, swelling, and burning sensation. In severe cases, there will be pain in one or both the breasts.
In some cases, the problem is caused due to lactating a baby infected with oral thrush (yeast infection of the mouth). The tongue and mouth areas of the yeast infected baby may appear white along with small lesions. In any case, yeast infection in the breast may lead to complications for both the baby and the mother. So, make sure the symptoms are addressed correctly by a qualified physician.
As mentioned already, this problem is contagious and can spread through direct skin contact or indirectly through other mechanisms. Hence, lactating from a mother may trigger oral thrush in the baby. In order to avoid such a situation, diagnosis and treatment should be done as early as possible. If identified in the early stages, the infection can be treated by applying over-the-counter antifungal creams.
For breastfeeding mothers, extra care should be taken while using antifungal creams, so as to ensure safety for the baby. Do not forget to go through the label before applying the ointment to the yeast infected breasts. For preventing recurrent infections, the cream should be used even after the condition seems to disappear. If the symptoms do not resolve after applying topical ointments, the physician may prescribe oral antifungal medications.
Apart from advocating topical antifungal ointments and oral medications for the infection cure, one should follow personal hygiene like washing the hands frequently and keeping the nipples dry after nursing and bathing. Also, incorporate more yogurt in the diet, while limiting foods that are very sweet and those that are based on yeast. In order to prevent the problem, it is suggested that you keep the environment clean, dry (as far as possible), and most importantly, follow the self care tips as directed by the physician.
Disclaimer: This HerHaleness article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.