Hesperian Health Guides

For Thrush (Candida, Yeast Infection)

Newborn Babies and Breastfeeding: Medicines

Gentian violet, GV, crystal violet, methylrosanilinium chloride

Gentian violet is an inexpensive treatment for yeast infections in the mouth, on the nipples of a breastfeeding mother, in skin folds, or on the vulva or vagina. It also works against some bacterial skin infections.

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Gentian violet can irritate the skin and cause sores when used on the mouth or vagina. Stop using if a rash or sores develop.


Gentian violet turns everything purple. It fades off the skin in a few days but can permanently stain cloth.

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Use a solution of 0.5% methylrosanilinium chloride (gentian violet). Paint it on the skin, in the mouth, or on the vulva 2 or 3 times a day.
If the infection does not start to heal within a couple of days, try another medicine.


Nystatin works well for most yeast infections in the mouth, on the nipples or skin, or in the vagina. For use in the mouth, nystatin comes in a liquid, powder that is mixed with water, or as a lozenge (pastille). For the skin, it comes as a cream, an ointment or a powder. For a yeast infection in the vagina, nystatin comes in vaginal tablets or cream that goes inside the vagina.

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The skin may become irritated where nystatin is used. This is uncommon. Stop using if you get a rash. Nystatin sometimes causes diarrhea.


A yeast infection that does not get better with nystatin, or keeps coming back again and again, can be a sign of HIV.

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Liquid nystatin usually comes in 100,000 Units per ml. Most people should use 1 ml (100,000 Units) to 2 ml (200,000 Units) in each dose but people with HIV may need as much as 5 ml (500,000 Units) in each dose.
For a baby with thrush in the mouth
Give 2 ml, less than ½ a teaspoon of liquid (200,000 Units), 4 times a day. Use a little clean cloth or dropper to spread the nystatin inside the mouth. Keep giving the medicine for 2 days after the yeast infection is gone, or it may come back.
For a breastfeeding mother with yeast infection of the nipples (itching, redness, or pain)
Put 1 to 2 ml (100,000 to 200,000 Units) of nystatin cream, powder, or liquid on her nipples 4 times a day.

For rash on baby’s bottom or genitals caused by a yeast infection
After changing the baby’s diaper, use nystatin cream 3 or 4 times a day on the affected bottom and genital areas. Make sure the area is clean and dry before putting on the cream. Keep using the cream for 3 days after the yeast infection is gone, or it may come back.

This page was updated:05 Jan 2024