Help, my baby has thrush! Now what?
If your baby has a persistent rash, it might be thrush.
If you see the following, it is most likely a thrush/yeast infection:
- Raised red spots that does not go away within a day or two and does not respond to regular bum creams
It is especially likely if baby has recently been on a course of antibiotics. In the case of a breastfed baby, thrush can pass from mom to baby and vice versa.
If your baby has thrush, you will need to do the following:
a) treat your baby
b) treat your cloth nappies
A. Treat your baby
Typically you will get a prescription from the pharmacy for an anti-fungal cream which you will need to apply on the affected areas. If the infection is mild you could also try using a few drops of tea trea oil mixed into coconut oil on baby's bum - both of these have anti-fungal properties. It will also help to add a few drops of tea tree oil to your cloth wipe solution during this time. Do not put undissolved tea tree oil directly on baby's skin as it can irritate the skin.
You might also need to treat any thrush that is present in baby's mouth (big white spots in the mouth). You will need a special ointment for this that you can get at a pharmacy - do not use tea tree oil in your baby's mouth.
You will need to continue the treatment until the symptoms clear up and for another two weeks afterwards to be safe. If you are breastfeeding and baby also has oral thrush, the yeast infection can easily pass from baby to you and vice versa, so you will need to apply a topical cream to your nipples as well (usually the same thing that you use to treat thrush in baby's mouth). Again, this should be applied during the full course of the infection and for two weeks afterwards.
Do not use cornstarch on baby's bum - this will feed the yeast and make it worse.
B. Treat your nappies
If your baby has a yeast infection, the yeast spores can live in the cloth nappies and regular washing will not get rid of them. So unless you treat your nappies to kill the spores, the yeast infection will keep coming back.
Yeast spores can be killed by the following:
It is recommended to do a bleach strip on your nappies if your baby has a yeast infection. on their nappy area. This is the quickest and most effective way to get rid of the spores. Starting with clean nappies
Machine: Add a 1/2 cup of bleach (dissolved in 1 litre water) to your washing machine (Important!: For a Frontloader make sure you only add it after it has filled up with water. you add the bleach solution through the detergent tray *) and run your nappies through a short cold wash. Then follow up with a warm wash cycle (add detergent, no softener) to break down the bleach. This is for a load that is 3/4th full
To bleach strip in a bath use the following dilution:
1 cup bleach for a full bath or,
1/2 cup bleach for a 1/2 full bath or,
1/4 cup bleach for a 1/4 full bath etc
Keep nappies in the bath for 30min, maximum time of 45 min. Follow with a warm wash (add detergent, no softener) in your machine to break down the bleach
1 tablespoon of bleach for 4L of water
* Check your Frontloader manual if you have a HE machine, if it uses less than 45L water per washload, reduce the bleach to only 1/4 cup
2 Grapefruit seed extract (GSE)
If you cannot or don't want to use bleach, you can add 10 - 20 drops of GSE to the final rinse during your regular wash. This is best used in conjunction with a hot wash and/or hanging nappies in the sun to dry (ie heat treatment).
3 Heat (> 60C) (Note: Never wash any cloth nappies with PUL or elastics above 60C)
Alternatively, you can heat treat by ironing your nappies. Note: this will only be possible if you are using flats or prefolds. Do NOT iron any items containing elastic, PUL/TPU or snaps.
You now have a choice:
a) switch to disposables until the yeast infection clears up and for two weeks afterwards
b) continue with cloth, but be aware that you need to continue treating your nappies as explained above until the yeast infection clears up and for two weeks afterwards. Because bleach treatment with every wash is very harsh it is usually recommend to switch to flats and covers and/or AI2s during this time. You only need to bleach treat the flats and inserts instead of exposing PUL/TPU to bleach repeatedly.
You can safely use the anti-fungal cream with your cloth nappies, there is no need to use liners to protect your nappies.
DISCLAIMER: We have no medical background and this document is merely a guideline based on our experience with thrush and information gathered from various cloth diaper blogs. This does not and should not replace medical advice from a professional.