In most cases, sore nipples are the result of poor attachment. If your baby is attached well, he or she has a lot of nipple in his or her mouth. The nipple itself then lies in the back of your baby's mouth, against the soft palate. This does not hurt. If your baby is not well attached and only takes the nipple into his or her mouth, the nipple can rub the hard palate of your baby and get damaged. Sore nipples or cracked nipples can be the result. You can use a nipple balm (such as Bepanthen or Purelan). However, this will soften the nipples, which barely, or does not promote the healing.
Sometimes your nipples will be sore even though the baby is attached properly. If normal measures against sore nipples (proper attachment, changing position, dry nipples) aren’t helping, it could be a fungal infection.
If you have any of the following symptoms, you may have a fungal infection:
- red and sore nipples;
- nipple damage;
- no external symptoms;
- white dots in the nipple skin folds;
- occasionally a burning chest pain, especially during and after feeding;
In a fungal infection, the nipple may be affected, but the milk canal in the breast may also be infected. And since your baby's mouth is in direct contact with the nipple, it may also appear in the mouth of your child (thrush).
If you see or hear the following, your baby may have a fungal infection:
- Your baby has irritated mucous membranes in the mouth and throat cavity, with a white slough often visible;
- Your baby behaves differently, for example, restless, sleeping shorter;
- Your child refuses to attach to the breast or repeatedly releases the breast while eating;
- Your baby’s lips are pearlescent;
- Your baby makes a clicking sound while eating;
- Your baby is suffering from diaper rashes;
How does a fungal infection develop?
- due to a weakened immune system / stress;
- due to the pregnancy and / or childbirth;
- disturbed or unbalanced sugar levels;
- through diabetes mellitus;
- wrong diet (too rich in sugar and refined products, alcohol);
- due to antibiotics;
- due to hormonal medications (including the contraceptive pill);
Contamination can also be a cause. You and your baby can contaminate each other again. If you have a vaginal fungal infection, you can easily infect yourself. Your partner can also carry the fungus.
What to do in case of a fungal infection?
There are several treatments.
The GP can prescribe a fungicide. It is important that both you and your baby are treated because you continue to contaminate each other over and over. Even if one of you does not seem to have fungal infection, our obstetricians strongly recommend this. Treatment of the mother should be continued up to 7-10 days after the pain has disappeared. If the fungal infection is very stubborn or if you suffer from severe chest pain, your doctor may also prescribe a stronger drug.
Candida Albicans is a strong yeast that can survive in different environments. Therefore, it is important to maintain a high level of hygiene, and to clean or avoid as many sources of infection as possible.
Good advice from our midwives:
- Wash your hands frequently, especially before and after feeding and after changing a diaper;
- Let the nipples air-dry after feeding.
- Damp nipple compresses are an ideal environment for the fungus, so change them as often as possible;
- Wear a clean bra every day;
- Avoid family members with fungal infection as much as possible. Make sure they get treatment, too.
- Use as little soap as possible, or only sour soap; fungi thrive badly in an acidic environment;
- Boil soothers daily and clean toys that touch your baby's mouth.
- Clean your breast pump every day: Boil the parts that can be boiled well.