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Breast Yeast Infection and How To Help Yourself

Updated 4/06/2021

Medically reviewed by Dr. Atmika Paudel, PhD - Written by Dr. Shalaka Samant, PhD and Dan Jackowiak Nc, HHP


Dr. Shalaka Samant, PhD says... This article about breast yeast infection accurately describes the condition of lactation mastitis caused by Candida and the possible treatment options for the same.


Breast yeast infection is very hard to diagnose, but many women get this infection while nursing their babies. Usually it is diagnosed as mastitis of the breast first, which is an inflammatory condition usually caused by bad bacteria. Assuming the condition is of bacterial origin antibiotics are prescribed. However, if the infection is being caused by yeast, these antibiotics fail to make a difference. Various medications described in the study referenced below are used after that in an attempt to control the infection.

This condition can be very painful and can be very hard to get rid of. Many women are only able to keep it under control until they stop nursing.


Dr. Shalaka Samant, PhD says...

Mastitis is the inflammation of the mammary gland mainly due to a bacterial infection. Sometimes however, Candida spp., which is a common commensal in humans, turns into a pathogen when the balance between the yeast and the human host is disturbed. This leads to Candida mastitis. (1) 18% of breast-feeding women who experience nipple pain suffer from lactation mastitis caused by this yeast. Candida colonization of the lactating mother's breast is often devoid of symptoms, but overgrowth may lead to symptoms such as sore nipples and breast pain. It may start as a superficial infection and later spread to the milk ducts.

1. Kaski, K., Kvist, L.J. Deep breast pain during lactation: a case-control study in Sweden investigating the role of Candida albicans. Int Breastfeed J 13, 21 (2018).


How Do You Get It?

When you get internal breast yeast infection it indicates that your good bacterial levels are very low because it is good bacteria that are thought to keep yeast under control in the body. The mother also passes along these good bacteria, along with all her antibodies, through her breast milk to the baby and this jump starts the baby's immune system. Most of the time the baby develops a yeast infection as well, usually oral thrush, which is a yeast infection of the mouth.


Dr. Shalaka Samant, PhD says...

In healthy women, mastitis is rare. However, women with diabetes, chronic illness, AIDS, or an impaired immune system are more susceptible. Some other maternal risk factors (2) for the development of Candida mastitis include intake of large amounts of dairy products, heavily sweetened foods and artificial sweeteners, recent antibiotic use, and a history of recurrent yeast infections (vaginal yeast infections).

2. Risk Factors for Lactation Mastitis. Catherine Fetherston, RM, MSc, IBCLC First Published June 1, 1998 Research Article Find in PubMed


How Do You Treat Breast Yeast Infections?

breast anatomy

In 2011 Louisa Hanna, MD and Stacie A Cruz, MD published a study in the Permanente Journal titled, Candida Mastitis: A Case Report, this study talks about the use of drugs on the nipples and swabbing the inside of the infants mouth with prescription creams for 14 days. If success is not achieved, fluconazole is usually prescribed for two to four weeks. In spite of the prescription drugs and the long length of treatment, the infection often recurs like it did for the woman in this study, in spite of two rounds of Fluconazole and prescription creams. Her symptoms were finally resolved by a change in diet and probiotics.

I do not recommend herbs to treat a breast yeast infection because they can be passed along to the baby in breast milk. However, the above study points out that less than 5% of Fluconazole taken by mothers with a breast yeast infection is actually passed onto the baby through the milk so I doubt any herbs would as well. However, I do not know of any studies that prove this.


Dr. Shalaka Samant, PhD says...

Typically, antifungal agents such as nystatin or miconazole (3) are prescribed to treat this infection and to help continue breastfeeding. Since the lactating infant also develops an oral yeast infection, both the mother and the child need antifungal treatment. Reports suggest that this sometimes becomes a difficult infection to eradicate, (4) even with the continued use of antifungals.

3. Management of Mastitis in Breastfeeding Women JEANNE P. SPENCER, MD, Conemaugh Memorial Medical Center, Johnstown, Pennsylvania. Am Fam Physician. 2008 Sep 15;78(6):727-731. 
4. Candida Mastitis: A Case Report. Perm J. 2011 Winter; 15(1): 62–64. Published online Winter 2011. doi: 10.7812/tpp/10-088


If you do decide to take herbs for your breast yeast infection I would avoid anything that contains pau d'arco. There are reports floating around that suggest pau d'arco could cause problems with brain development. I don't know if this information is true but why risk it.

Because breast yeast infection is usually caused by a lack of good bacteria and because probiotic bacteria are completely safe, using probiotics appears to be the safest way to treat breast yeast infections. Doses, quite often, need to be very high, about 300 billion or more bacteria per day in some cases.

Profase is the best yeast killer of the three probiotics listed here. The bacteria amounts are not as high as the other two but that really isn't an issue because of its yeast killing abilities. However, if you combined it with Floraphage its numbers go through the roof. Both work extremely well with Biofase.


Small-Profase

Custom Probiotics formulas (CP-1) are made up of good bacterial strains that are normally found in the human body to begin with. They contain beneficial strains of live bacteria in very high doses. Independent testing has verified 78 billion in newly manufactured capsules and it is guaranteed to contain 60 billion living bacteria per capsule at the time of expiration, which is a year later.

The dose for CP-1 should be started at two capsules two times a day for a few days with colostrum. Then raise the dose to four capsules two times a day for a few days. After that, follow the directions on the page to establish your optimal dose.

The 11-Strain probiotic powder is also very good for breast yeast infections. It contains the same 5 strains as CP-1 with an additional 6. One adult scoop contains 200 billion bacteria making it a true probiotic powerhouse. You take it the same way as CP-1 starting at 1 scoop a day and work up as needed.

Symbiotics Colostrum Plus from Amazon Amazon is also a good idea because it helps good bacteria to establish themselves in the body. Colostrum Plus contains 1.2 grams of colostrum and lactoferrin and this is what jump-starts the immune systems of babies and helps the good bacteria to grow in their intestine as well. It has been found to be anti-fungal, antiviral, and prevents the growth of bad bacteria and other pathogens in the intestine. It stimulates the immune system by up to 400% and controls cell and tissue damage. It also regulates iron binding and helps heal leaky gut syndrome, which reduces and alleviates allergies. I would take 1 or 2 tablets 3 x a day with the probiotic of your choice.

Biofase is an enzyme product designed to eat yeast and bad bacterial biofilms and the cell wall of yeast. One of the enzymes does enter the blood stream and kills yeasts no matter where it is found. I would start at 1 capsule 2 times a day 1 hour before breakfast and at bedtime. Work up to three capsules or more two times per day if needed.

Most of the time you will have to combine Biofase with one of the Custom Probiotic formulas or Profase to get internal breast yeast infections under control. They can be taken together or 10 to 15 minutes apart.


Dr. Shalaka Samant, PhD says...

It is believed that the composition of the mammary microbiome – the microbes which inhabit the mammary area - is an important factor in determining the susceptibility to mastitis. Mammary dysbiosis, (5) or an imbalance in the microbial population of this area, is thought to lead to lactation mastitis. It is possible that antibiotics administered during pregnancy or intrapartum (6)affect the mammary microbiome. In this context, the development of new strategies for mastitis management based on human milk probiotics, (7)as an alternative or complement to antifungal therapy, becomes particularly appealing.

5. Probiotics can affect breastmilk composition and treat painful lactation. Gut Microbiato for Health. 6 Oct 2015 | Kristina Campbell 
6. Shifting the balance: antibiotic effects on host-microbiota mutualism. Nat Rev Microbiol. 2011 Apr;9(4):233-43. doi: 10.1038/nrmicro2536. Epub 2011 Feb 28. 
7. Probiotics for human lactational mastitis. Authors: Fernández, L.; Arroyo, R.; Espinosa, I.; Marín, M.; Jiménez, E.; Rodríguez, J.M. Source: Beneficial Microbes, Volume 5, Number 2, 1 June 2014, pp. 169-183(15)


You could also combine the two probiotics for breast yeast infection like Reba and Elizabeth describe in the testimonials below.


Treating Breast Yeast Externally

Cold pressed virgin coconut oil can be used externally on the nipples and I would take 1 tbls by mouth 2 x a day as well. Fatty acids from coconut oil such as lauric acid can lyse Candida by breaking its cell membrane. Because it is a food, it is completely safe for your baby. As a matter of fact, the fat is very good for brain development

If your baby has developed thrush I would combine the colostrum with the probiotic with a little bit of water to make a paste and feed it to them. Not only will this clear up the thrush but it is extremely good for their immune systems.

You could also use Gentian Violet both externally on your nipples and for oral thrush if your baby has it. Be forewarned that Gentian Violet will turn everything it touches purple. You can learn more about Gentian Violet here.


What should you expect from this breast yeast infection treatment?

The probiotics will begin to clean you out intestinally while it raises good bacterial levels. If you are not used to taking probiotics or enzymes, your stomach might feel a little uncomfortable for a few days but it will pass. The probiotic bacteria will then be transported to the breast where it will help crowd out the yeast.

Symbiotics Colostrum Plus will create a cascading effect upon the immune system throughout your body and raise immune function by 400%. This increased activity of the neutrophils and macrophages will help rid you of the yeast in your breast and where ever else the yeast may reside.

Biofase and coconut oil will provide a one two punch to kill the yeast cells from the inside out while helping prevent your baby from getting thrush.

I would also avoid the blatant sugars in your diet. You need some carbs while breast-feeding, but it is much better to get them from fruits and vegetables than processed grain junk foods, sugar and fructose.


Dr. Shalaka Samant, PhD says...

The potential of lactic acid bacteria and bifidobacteria in addressing mastitis symptoms has been tested in clinical trials. Oral administration of probiotic strains such as Lactobacillus salivarius, Lactobacillus gasseri, Lactobacillus fermentum (8) has been shown to significantly reduce pain and improve mastitis symptoms. Various mechanisms, such as, competition for nutrients between probiotics and pathogens, and production of antifungal compounds by the probiotics have been ascribed to this beneficial effect. These probiotics are of human origin and hence can be safely used during breastfeeding.

8. Oral administration of Lactobacillus strains isolated from breast milk as an alternative for the treatment of infectious mastitis during lactation. Appl Environ Microbiol. 2008 Aug;74(15):4650-5. doi: 10.1128/AEM.02599-07. Epub 2008 Jun 6.


Breast Yeast Infection Commonly Asked Questions?

How common is breast yeast infection?

It is very common in nursing moms that have recently taken antibiotics or suffer from recurrent vaginal yeast infections. Sometimes though the infections are actually bacterial in nature and not yeast at all.

How long for breast yeast infection to clear up?

This is an impossible question to answer because everyone is different and will have different levels of infection. But with prescription drugs it can take 2 to 8 weeks and natural methods take about the same amount of time.

How long does a breast yeast infection last?

It varies from person to person, we are all different and women can have this to different degrees. The worse it is the longer it will take to get rid of it. In extreme cases all you might be able to do is keep it at bay until you stop breastfeeding.

What causes fungus under breasts?

Usually Candida yeast, especially Candida parapsilosis because it commonly lives on the skin. Under the breast can be a warm and moist environment and this can allow it to develop and get out of control. Usually a rash develops first and in late stages the skin forms blisters, cracks and weeps fluid.


Medical Review by Dr. Atmika Paudel, PhD

The facts and information provided in the above article about breast yeast infection are correct.

I would like to add on some points with recent literature based evidence which support the notions of the above article. Pain and inflammation in the breast and nipple during breastfeeding is a very common problem among lactating mothers. While there are many underlying causes to this mastitis, sometimes it is due to yeast infection, which is believed to be largely under-diagnosed (1). A recent case-report showed that the mastitis of a lactating mother was due to Candida infection, and she was treated with topical and oral antifungal drugs. Upon her medical history, it was revealed that she also had recurrent yeast vaginal infections. Her baby also had oral thrush, that transmitted from the breast yeast infection from the mother (1).

Many argue that deep breast yeast infection is rare and usually the mastitis should be treated with topical antifungal agents rather than oral antifungals. Well, in my opinion, it depends from case to case and if the breast infection is severe with cracks in the nipple, there is a chance of systemic yeast infection where infection spreads rapidly to the internal organs of the body. Nonetheless, on time treatment is essential for preventing the infection from spreading.

The yeast breast infection is largely attributed to microbiome dysbiosis as mentioned in the above article. While healthy women had more probiotic bacteria such as lactobacillus and less commensal opportunistic pathogens Staphylococcus, women with mastitis had the opposite- less or no probiotic bacteria and more of the opportunistic pathogen Staphylococcus and Streptococcus and some fungi (2).

Therefore, probiotic supplement can be helpful in preventing mastitis. In a clinical trial, women were given oral probiotic supplementation during their 27-32 weeks of gestation and observed 3 months postpartum. It was found that mastitis was significantly lower in the group receiving probiotics compared to those not receiving probiotics (3). This clinical trial supports the notion that probiotic supplementation provides protection against mastitis, be it bacterial or fungal.

  1. Merad, Y., Derrar, H., Belkacemi, M., Drici, A., & Belmokhtar, Z. (2020). Candida albicans Mastitis in Breastfeeding Woman: An Under Recognized Diagnosis. Cureus, 12(12), e12026. 
  2. Alexander Barrios Sanjuanelo. Probiotics and Mastitis During Lactation. EC Paediatrics 9.1 (2020): 137-144. 
  3. Leónides Fernández, Nivia Cárdenas, Rebeca Arroyo, Susana Manzano, Esther Jiménez, Virginia Martín, Juan Miguel Rodríguez, Prevention of Infectious Mastitis by Oral Administration of Lactobacillus salivarius PS2 During Late Pregnancy, Clinical Infectious Diseases, Volume 62, Issue 5, 1 March 2016, Pages 568–573. 


Have Any Questions About Breast Yeast Infections?

Do you have any questions about breast yeast infections or yeast infections in general? Ask your question here or contact us using the contact page of this website. It is also always a good idea to talk to your doctor as well.



Breast Yeast Infection Testimonials

Hi Dan,

I wanted to say that your probiotics and recommendation for what to take with them really helped me out of what seemed like an endless loop of problems after becoming a new breastfeeding mom and allowed me to continue breastfeeding with so much more peace and ease and way less pain, anxiety, and frustration than before I used your products. I was so frustrated and overwhelmed before finding your website.

Your regime for breast yeast infection cleared my thrush, yeast infection on the skin on my breast, and kept mastitis from returning.  Thank you so much! I tried pretty much everything prior to finding this website and this truly helped! It fixed a few problems I didn’t even know were related!

Thank you again!
Taylor

Hi Dan!

So the 300 billion of probiotic worked. I did that and the doc also found some that a lab made in our town and he told me to try that too, I did. So I think a combo of the two probiotics, both inside and out worked well. Thank you for your suggestion. I will be passing things on to my friends who are new mothers. Thanks a bunch. If I have any other problems I will keep in contact.
REBA,,,


Hello Dan

I have been taking 3 capsules of the CP-1 twice daily (with the colostrum, and also the Biofase) and am having good results, my symptoms disappeared after 2 weeks, and decreased significantly after the first week. I had my milk cultured after 1 week of taking the supplements that you recommend and it came back as having no fungus! I don't know what I would have done if I hadn't found your website. I will definitely be sharing this info with other Mom's out there that are dealing with the same problems.

Thank you so much,
Elizabeth


Hi Dan,

I've had great success in fighting thrush/breast yeast infection with your probiotic and biofase combo.  I've also read all of the information on your site and have learned so much about my diet and healthy eating.  Most important of all - I am able to feed my baby pain free with this recipe after trying many different things.  I just placed my first re-order.

Thank you,
Lorin


Dan, 

I had recently given birth and had been re-admitted to the hospital due to a bacterial infection. I was on IV antibiotics for four days and sent home with oral antibiotics to take for two weeks. The antibiotics completely wiped out my system! I had been nursing my daughter when she developed a yeast infection diaper rash and I realized I had thrush in my milk ducts. I was so distraught with the knowledge that we would just keep passing the yeast back and forth. I had no idea how to combat this besides calling my doctor and taking medication that was NOT guaranteed to completely treat the yeast and keep it from coming back. 

I stumbled upon a forum where another mother had recommend your website and treatment. I found your website and read all of the information on yeast in the milk ducts. The most detailed and informative website on yeast by far! I finally had hope that I could concur the yeast and continue to breastfeed my daughter! I started on your recommended doses of Biofase, Profase & CP-1, along with taking coconut oil and grapefruit seed extract. I also gave my daughter a combination of the Biofase and Symbiotics Colostrum Plus. Both of our symptoms cleared up within two weeks!!

Some people live with passing yeast back and forth while breastfeeding for months! We continue to take the Biofase and probiotics keep our immune system running. Recently my husband caught a cold virus and both my daughter and I stayed virus free. I contribute it to the Biofase and probiotics we continue to take. Also, Biofase keeps me regular and gas free!

I am so thankful I came across your website. I would recommend it to anyone fighting the yeast battle. 

Thank you!
Steph


Dan,

Thanks so much for your follow up! I do really appreciate your advice and products. They've allowed me to continue breastfeeding without the recurrent (and painful) thrush problems I was having!! The doctors I talked to really had nothing to suggest (I can't take prescription antifungals). I know it's your Biofase and Profase, because after a couple months I tried to taper off the products and the thrush returned.

It works!
Julie


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