Lactating mothers may experience many health and hormonal problems. One among the many is the painful fungal infection in the nipples, which is commonly seen during monsoon.

“Nipple infection cases tend to spike in lactating mothers during the rainy season as the humidity levels are high and the fungi spread quickly,” said Dr Suman Bijlani, gynaecologist obstetrician endoscopic surgeon, SRV Hospital Mumbai

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Causes

The expert said the infection happens due to the overgrowth of the Candida Albicans fungus that thrives in a dark, moist, and warm environment. “This fungus is present in the body but the pathogen tends to remain harmless as good bacteria regulate its numbers. However, any imbalance in the numbers of good bacteria can lead to thrush, a fungal infection. Other reasons such as high estrogen levels in the body, oral contraceptives, anaemia, and damp nipples can double one’s chances of fungal infection in the nipples,” she explained.

Infection in the breast glands, especially during breastfeeding, may present as redness and pain all around it. (Source: Getty Images/Thinkstock)

Signs and symptoms of thrush

Nipple pain after feeding, burning and itching sensation in the nipples, swelling in nipples and redness around the areola, blisters, and patches around the nipples are some red flags.

Treatment

After confirming fungal infection in the nipples, the doctor can advise anti-fungal medication, cream, gel, and ointment. Remember not to neglect it; start treatment without any delay, Dr Bijlani said.

“The treatment may vary from one woman to another. Try to follow instructions given only by the doctor and avoid self-medication. Furthermore, you need to take some measures such as keeping your breast clean and dry during monsoon, washing the breast pump properly, washing your hands thoroughly after touching the breasts, before feeding, and after changing the baby’s diaper. Tight clothes can cause abrasions and severe discomfort in the skin around the nipples. So, wear loose cotton clothes that are comfortable and help your nipples heal faster,” she added.

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