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C-section wound care can be pretty challenging, especially with a new baby to take care of and the toll pregnancy can take on your body. Unfortunately, sometimes the C-section wound can get infected, and this might cause pain and discomfort.
If you’ve just had a C-section, or if it’s planned and you would like to know more about thrush after C-section, keep on reading!
What Is Thrush?
Thrush is a yeast infection caused by a fungus called Candida albicans. This fungus lives within the GI tract and is usually kept in check by good bacteria, which creates an acidic pH that prevents its overgrowth.
Whenever the pH balance is disturbed, Candida fungi replicate fast. They overgrow, causing itchiness, pain, and a white substance that looks like cottage cheese and reveals a red surface when scraped. This is what’s commonly known as thrush.
Candida either forms white and red sores in the mouth, called oral thrush, or causes a vaginal infection, called vaginal candidiasis. It can also infect wounds, like a C-section incision, causing weeping and patches of white around the wound.
Can I Get Thrush After a C-Section?
Unfortunately, the chance of developing thrush during pregnancy is common, and it increases if you have a pre-existing condition, such as:
- Immunocompromising diseases, such as HIV
The infection that comes during pregnancy may or may not continue after having a C-section, depending on different factors. For example, stress and taking oral antibiotics can cause the elimination of good bacteria from the GI tract and vaginal canal, which allows the overgrowth of Candida, leading to a thrush infection.
Significant blood loss during the surgery, longer-than-usual delivery, and previous C-section births can also raise the chances of postpartum thrush.
Having your C-section incision sutured using nylon or staple sutures also increases the chances of postpartum infection. Polyglycolide (PGA) sutures, which are absorbed into the body and don’t require taking out, don’t get infected as much, according to this study.
How Can I Prevent Thrush After a C-Section?
There are some steps you can take to ensure proper wound healing and reduce the risk of developing thrush after surgery.
- Keep the wound area clean and dry. If you have a bit of a belly overhang, be careful to wipe it gently, and dry it thoroughly using a blow dryer on cool after you shower.
- Use non-stick wound dressing on your incision for the duration of wound healing. Change it whenever it gets damp with sweat to prevent fungal growth.
- Wear cotton clothes that are loose-fitting and don’t rub against the wound. This can help wick the excess moisture away and keep the area well-ventilated even if you sweat.
- Eat a lot of foods rich in probiotics, such as yoghurt, kimchi, and kombucha. These help increase good gut bacteria that can fend off Candida overgrowth.
What Does a C-Section Thrush Look Like?
Thrush after a C-section can present itself in many ways. At the incision site, you could notice the wound weeping, a white discharge that looks like cottage cheese, itching, and irritation.
The yeast infection can also be detected in other ways, with the same clumps of white around the vulva and vagina, increased postpartum bleeding, and sharp pain during urination or intercourse.
How to Treat Thrush at C-Section Incision?
Treatment of thrush at the C-section incision site can vary depending on how severe it is. In minor infections, using an antifungal cream, spray, or ointment can be enough to treat it completely. To clean up the weeping, use your baby’s sensitive skin wipes.
However, you might need a prescription for a systemic antifungal if the thrush is:
- Recurring within a short period of time
- There’s pus coming out of the wound.
The previously mentioned tips about how to prevent thrush are also beneficial during treatment. Keeping the infected area clean and dry and replenishing your body with probiotics can make the bout of thrush much shorter and less painful.
When Should I See a Doctor if I Have Thrush on my Scar?
An infected C-section incision can be a serious health risk if not treated early and adequately.
If you have lower abdominal pain, a fever of 39℃ and up, the wound weeping, pus oozing, or an opening in your wound, you should seek a doctor immediately. The wound might have a secondary bacterial infection, which will be thoroughly cleaned, and a medicinal cream will be applied.
If you try several topical treatments and the thrush keeps coming back, ask your doctor if a systemic antifungal medicine is the right choice for you. Most antifungal pills are safe during breastfeeding since the same compounds are used to treat oral thrush in infants.
However, you should always check with your doctor whether there are any precautions you should be taking while feeding and taking care of your baby.
If you have a pre-existing condition that makes you immunocompromised, such as diabetes or HIV, you should definitely follow up with a doctor. Your doctor will prescribe medicine that can clear the infection without making your original condition worse.
What Other Kinds of Infection Can Occur in a C-Section Wound?
The most common types of C-section incision infections are cellulitis and abscess formation.
Cellulitis is caused by staphylococcus or streptococcus bacteria, and it causes redness, swelling and pain to spread fast around the area of the incision. It may cause wound weeping, but there’s no pus involved.
An abscess, on the other hand, has the added symptom of pus formation around the edges of the wound. It can cause fever and fatigue, and the abscess might spread to the uterine lining, causing endometritis.
Postpartum thrush at the site of a C-section incision can be an unpleasant, painful experience. However, with preventative measures and being mentally prepared, you can spare yourself unnecessary agony.
It’s essential to take proper care of the C-section wound to avoid an infection of any kind. Wearing loose-fitting cotton clothing, preventing any moisture entrapment in the wound area, and looking for early signs of illness can significantly shorten the duration of treatment.