Gentian violet, a purple dye available over-the-counter, has anti-fungal qualities that make it useful in the treatment of yeast infections, notes the Gentian Research Network. Thrush, a yeast infection in the mouth, occurs in nursing infants as well as in those who wear dentures and patients with depressed immune systems, including those with HIV or cancer. Characteristics of thrush include white, milky patches in the mouth that may cause pain that interferes with eating and drinking. Nursing mothers of infants with thrush may also experience nipple pain. Although considered safe in small amounts, gentian violet may cause skin irritation and mouth sores in some individuals.
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Discuss the condition and treatment plan with your health care provider before beginning treatment. Although you may buy gentian violet online or over-the-counter, your health care provider may need to individualize the dose for your particular needs, notes MayoClinic.com.
Remove the baby's shirt or protect it with a bib or other covering to minimize staining from the purple dye. A breastfeeding mother should also remove her shirt as the dye will transfer from the baby to her nipples during the feeding. Older children and adults using gentian violet for thrush may wish to protect their clothing with a paper towel in case of drips.
Dip a cotton swab, also called a Q-tip, into 1 percent gentian violet solution.
Paint the inside of an older child's or adult's mouth with the dye, including the tongue and insides of the cheeks. Instruct the person to spit out any excess dye rather than swallowing it, says MayoClinic.com. For an infant, place the purple end of the cotton swab between her lips and allow her to suck on it briefly, says Jack Newman, M.D. in an article published on the Mother & Child Health website. Examine the infant's mouth and, if necessary, paint any areas on the tongue and inner cheeks that have not turned purple.
Breastfeed as usual if treating a nursing infant, notes Dr. Newman. Gentian violet will also relieve the mother's nipple pain if she has contracted the yeast infection as well.
Examine the mouth for irritation or sores. Stopping treatment should clear up irritations within 24 hours, says Dr. Newman.
Repeat gentian violet treatments, according to the health care provider's instructions. Unless otherwise instructed, children and adults need gentian violet applications two or three times a day for three days, according to MayoClinic.com. Nursing infants may require only one application a day for three days when the mother's nipple pain is the primary reason for treatment.
Contact your health care provider if the thrush has not cleared within three days. He may need to culture the lesions to determine if another organism is involved or prescribe a different antifungal medication.