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Disclaimer: The information in this post is for educational purposes only. I am not a doctor. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. None of the opinions are meant to diagnose or treat any disease or illness. You should always consult your healthcare provider.


15 Tips for Curing Thrush with Gentian Violet

Does your baby have white patches on their tongue or the inside of their cheeks? Do they have a diaper rash that just won’t go away? Are your nipples sore? It is possible that you and your baby have thrush, a yeast infection that is easily passed back and forth between mom and baby.

15TipsForCuringThrushWithGentianViolet

Thrush can be very difficult to get rid of. My son was diagnosed with thrush when he was 13 months old. My doctor recommended an anti fungal medication. I hesitated, but ultimately decided to give my son the prescription. Several times a day I had to rub the medicine all over the inside of his mouth. To make a long story short, two rounds of medication and two months later, we were still battling thrush.

I called my lactation consultant and vented about my frustrations with the antibiotics and the thrush that just wouldn’t go away. She suggested gentian violet.

Gentian violet is not a medication. It is actually a dye that I spread all over the inside of my son’s mouth, his bottom, and my nipples. It works by coating the yeast and cutting off the yeast’s oxygen supply. It works after just one application, but my lactation consultant told me that we should use it for three nights just to be sure we got all of it.

So if gentian violet works after just 3 nights (unlike the antibiotics I was battling with for weeks), why don’t more people choose to use gentian violet right from the start? Probably because it is messy. Like I said, it is a dye. Whatever you touch with gentian violet will be stained purple.

At first I was scared of the mess, but in the end it was much easier than coating my son’s mouth with antibiotics several times a day. However,  you should make sure you know what you are doing before you get started with gentian violet.

15 Tips for Curing Thrush with Gentian Violet

1. Consult your Doctor or Lactation Consultant – I am not a lactation consultant or a medical professional. Gentian violet worked for my son, but there may be reasons why you should avoid using it with your baby. Find out from a professional exactly how to use gentian violet safely.

2. Use it 3 Nights – After the last feeding of the night, just before you put your little one down for bed, spread the gentian violet all over the inside of your baby’s mouth. Make sure you get it everywhere: roof of the mouth, under the tongue, inside of cheeks, the gums, and as far back on the tongue as you can. You need to do this for three nights in a row.

Since yeast can also be in the form of a diaper rash or on mom’s nipples, also apply gentian violet to your baby’s bottom and your nipples just before bed. Do this even if you don’t see signs of thrush there. Yeast loves warm, moist places, so make sure you get in all the cracks and creases around your baby’s bottom.

3. Dilute – Gentian violet can be picked up over the counter at most pharmacies or on Amazon. It is sold in different concentrations, usually 1% or 2%. You need to dilute the dye to 0.5% before using it on your baby. The pharmacy can give you a small syringe to help you measure out the dye and then add the correct amount of water.

For 1% Gentian Violet – 1 part dye & 1 part water
For 2% Gentian Violet – 1 part dye & 3 parts water

4. Watch for a Reaction – Even with properly diluted gentian violet, some children will have a reaction. It is rare, but be on the look out for sores in your baby’s mouth.

5. Use a Disposable Cup – Dilute the small amount of gentian violet that you need for each application in a disposable cup that you can throw away. Don’t forget that gentian violet stains! You don’t want to rinse or wash a cup in your sink. The cup and the sink could end up purple.

6. Protect the Surface/Floor – Put an old towel or rag on top of the counter where you are diluting the dye in case you drip. I decided to put the gentian violet in my son’s mouth in our laundry room. I set my son on top of the washing machine, which I covered with an old towel. I figured that if things got super messy, I would rather have a stained laundry room floor than a stained kitchen or living room floor.

15TipsForCuringThrushWithGentianViolet-FB

7. Apply Gentian Violet with a Q-Tip – I used a q-tip to wipe the dye all over the inside of my son’s mouth. I used a separate q-tip for his bottom and another for my nipples.

8. Don’t Use Diaper Rash or Nipple Cream – Soothing creams will form a barrier that the gentian violet can’t penetrate and will actually protect the yeast.

9. Wear Plastic Gloves I was amazed at how messy my hands were after putting the dye in my son’s mouth. Thank goodness for the gloves!

10. Rub Olive Oil or Coconut Oil on your Baby’s Face – I spread olive oil on my son’s cheeks and around his mouth to help keep the dye from staining his skin. His face still got purple, but I could tell it was worse on the night that I forgot to put the olive oil on first.

11. Have Help – If your newborn is battling thrush, you might not need an extra pair of hands to help. However, my son was over a year old and he definitely knew how to fight back when I came at him with the q-tip. It was extremely helpful to have my husband there to hold back my son’s little hands.

12. Have Everyone Wear Old Clothes – This is the time to put your baby in an ugly onesie. Pull out the your grubby yard work clothes. Make sure everyone involved in the process is wearing clothes that you won’t mind being stained purple.

13. Protect the Crib Sheets and Blankets – Lay down an old towel or use old crib sheets. I used my darkest sheet and put it on the crib upside down. Surprisingly, the sheet wasn’t stained at all. I guess my son doesn’t drool much in his sleep. Does your older baby sleep with a stuffed animal? Don’t forget about those types of things. Anything in that crib could end up stained.

14. Use Disposable Nursing Pads – Don’t forget about protecting your nursing bras from the purple stain. My favorite disposable pads are made by Lansinoh. You’ll want to make sure you are wearing a nursing bra that is comfortable enough for sleeping.

15. Be Careful Not to Recontaminate – Thrush can live on things like sippy cups, bottles, pacifiers, tooth brushes, nursing bras, and cloth diapers. Be diligent about boiling or washing these things in very hot water until you are sure the thrush is completely gone. 

Bonus Tip: Reschedule Family Photos! Thank goodness those purple stained baby lips won’t last forever. The purple will quickly fade, but you’ll want to make sure you don’t have any important photo shoots coming up before you start using gentian violet.

For more information about thrush and other alternative treatment options, check out: Breastfeeding and Thrush: How to Beat the Yeast Beast.

Have you ever battled thrush?  What did you use to get rid of it?


Rebekah Hoffer is a breastfeeding mom who has over come the struggles of excess lipase activity.  She shares frugal lifestyle tips, going green baby, and all of life in between at SimplyRebekah.com.

Comments

  1. I used GV with my son at the suggestion of our lactation consultant as well. It worked great. 2 things I was told that differ from this were 1. Paint the GV on my nipples before tha last feeding to ensure that baby got it all over in the mouth. 2. Not to use the Lanisol beast pads because they have a plastic backing that traps moisture and makes the yeast worse. Great article! Thanks for the tips!!!!

    • Rebekah Hoffer says:

      Katie, that is a good point about the plastic-backed breast pads. I’m not sure it would make much difference while using the gentian violet, but I can certainly see how it would help yeast thrive when you aren’t treating it. Thanks for the tip!

  2. I and my daughter had a terrible case of thrush soon after she was born…it took me a bit to figure out it was thrush because she didn’t have the classic white patches in her mouth for a while and I just assumed I was sore because she was a stronger nurser than my son was. At any rate, by the time we finally figured out what was going on I was absolutely miserable and was all but ready to give up nursing- which is saying a lot since I’m a huge breastfeeding advocate!

    Gentian Violet saved the day for us since we, like you, had no success with the medicine route. The GV was messy but oh so worth it! I highly recommend it!

    One other thing, I’ve discovered that women like me who test positive for GBS and opt for antibiotic via IV during labor tend to also have the “pleasure” of dealing with thrush more quickly since the antibiotics make it more likely to get any type of yeast. I’m so glad to know that now and will be much more watchful with future pregnancies!

    • I had the antibiotic iv during labor… i wish i would have known it was a risk.. the nurses should be obligated to also tell you side affects of antibiotics.. i want to sue them

      • Ellen Daniels says:

        Oh, come now! Antibiotics are ONLY prescribed when the benefits outweigh the risks. Thrush is an inconvenience, but doesn’t outweigh the risks that antibiotics are prescribed for!

        • It depends on the doctor. Many doctors will prescribe antibiotics when they’re not really necessary. And even when they can be used to treat a condition, often other methods with less risk can be used as effectively. This is one of those situations.

  3. Thanks so much for these tips! I bought GV to use weeks ago but have been avoiding it because frankly, I was afraid of the mess. Your article gave me the confidence to use it! We started last night…I sure hope it works. I battled thrush for months with my son and the Nystatin never worked and actually it turned out my son is allergic or sensitive to it and it would always make his diaper rashes 100 times worse. Now I and my newborn daughter have thrush and a course of Nystatin, again, did not work. The doctor wanted to try it again, but since we are certain it won’t work we are trying the GV. Hardly made any mess last night thanks to your help!

  4. So my baby girl is 2 months and she has thrush. Her daddy wants me to take her to the hospital because her dr is out of town. Do yall think she’s too young to use the dye

    • Cassandra says:

      Absolutely not. 🙂 my daughter is 11 days old and my lactation consultant prescribed it to me. She told me just make sure you dilute it.

  5. This site was a life savor! Y doctor prescribed it but they did not have it in the pharmacy so the suggested this. After reading the bottle and seeing it was only for external used freaked me out. Your tips and a picture of the actual bottle calmed me big time!

  6. Kitty roy says:

    Hi All,
    Me n my 4 month old baby is fighting with thrush from 3 months after trying nystatin and diflucin now want to try gentian violet but scared as pharmacist told me its for external use only .
    Plz help n if i try it is safe for my baby n how to apply directly in babies mouth or on my nipples then breastfeed her.

    • If you are nervous about using gentian violet after talking to the pharmacist, then certainly talk to a lactation consultant and see what they have to say. My lactation consultant recommended it, but you should only use it if YOU feel comfortable.

      If you decide to use it, apply it to the inside of your baby’s mouth with a q-tip. You won’t effectively cover the baby’s mouth and tongue by putting it on your nipples before breastfeeding.

    • Ellen Daniels says:

      Gentian violet has been used safely in babies’ mouths for at least 100 years. The pharmacist is required to impart the information the drug manufacturer prints on the label, and if the manufacturer wishes to “err on the safe side” because of lawsuit-happy people, the pharmacist can’t countermand the labeling.

  7. Hi there,
    I was prescribed diflucan by my midwife for thrush. I just got back from taking my 1month old son to the ped to have him treated as well. She said he shows no signs of white spots in his mouth so she says he does not have thrush. He has a little rash along the crack of his bum that she also said does not look like yeast, but I think it is. My gut says it is….I thought if mom has it, so does baby since it is so easily spread. I am going to try gentian violet and hope to be able to find it at the local pharm since our health food store is closed today. I am curious to how long it stains the lo mouth and just want to make sure that it is okay to use even if maybe he does not have signs of yeast in his mouth?

  8. Hi, I my country gentian violet is used for trush like it is here indicated. Doctors wil also prescribe in the case of trush for babies and for mothers a solution named glycerine borax which is very effective. You can buy that in farmacies in my country but you can find online how to prepare yourself, it contains just glycerine and borax. I mix gentian violet also with glycerine and use it like it is said here, I also mix metilen blue with glycerine for all troat infalmations, I also dilute a bit of blue metilen in water and drink for kidney infections, and dilute violet in water mix with a bit of sugar and drink for candida intestinal or synus infections ( also ears) where candida can also be a factor. Borax, violet and blue, 3 magical solution for many affections:) Hope this will help someone.Ah, and do not forget turpentine, just a few drops on sugar against parasites:)

  9. Is it normal for my 8 month old to get a raspy voice after using gv? Only started after I used it for her vary mild thrash

  10. Monique says:

    My little one also had thrush at about 6 months. I am a first time mom, and ran to the doctor. He prescribed anti fungal medicine and after two weeks it still wasn’t gone. I then went to the chemist, for a second opinion on the fungal medicine and he just gave me more. I ended up finishing that bottle too but still no luck. Then a good friend of mine told me about Gentian Violet. As i am a very skeptical person, i did a lot of research on it! Found this very helpful article (http://www.breastfeeding-problems.com/gentian-violet-for-thrush.html) ! And it wasn’t two days after I started using it, that it totally disappeared! I could have saved my little one a lot of discomfort and even money!!

  11. Gentian violet cleans right up with rubbing alcohol. It’s turns dark purple stains into disappearing ink… it’s amazing how it turns the purple into clear from hands, clothes, or any spill.

  12. I used Gentian Violet when my baby girl (who is now 13) caught it. I was always looking for natural remedies. Stumbled across the use of Gentian Violet on an alternative medicine website. The local pharmacist assured us it was safe and gave us a clean dosage suggestion. I was so impressed with how well it worked that when I thought my baby boy caught it, I used it on him as well. We made a huge mess that time lol! Staining our brand new mattress and all. When his symptoms weren’t quickly relieved we took him into see his pediatrician. He didn’t have thrush at all. He was diagnosed with Geographic Tongue. Something he will have for the rest of his life. It is not in any way associated with the use of Gentian Violet, I might add. And the GV didn’t aggravate it. It is a rare condition that some people are just born with. 3-5% approximately, however my brother in law has it as well. It is a condition that can cause irritation or itching in the mouth, but the most notable symptoms are odd patches all over the tongue and sometimes the rest of the mouth. People with geographic tongue can also have deep cracks along their tongues that resemble cracks in the earth. I just wanted to throw that out there for anyone else who may be stumped at what they are dealing with 🙂

  13. How long does it take for the purple stain to go away?

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  3. […] the yeast is resistant to the medications, you can try gentian violet after talking to your healthcare provider. Gentian violet is not a medication, but a dye that has […]

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