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Q&A: What Is Gentian Violet?

What is gentian violet?
Updated
January 30, 2017
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Gentian violet is a water-based, plant-based dye that can be an effectivenonprescription treatment of thrush due to its antifungal properties. Although very effective, gentian violet should be used in the correct concentration and for the proper duration. Most practitioners recommend .25 to .5 percent solution applied to the mom’s nipples and baby’s mouth one to three times a day for three days. If used in concentrations that are too strong or for too long, babies may develop sores in their mouth. A recent study in Australia has shown a link between gentian violet and mouth cancer, but it has been used for centuries in the US and Europe as an effective antifungal. Some of the advantages of gentian violet are that it’s nonprescription, easy to obtain and the three-day treatment is relatively quick. A major disadvantage is that it is extremely messy and hard to control. The dark purple dye will stain the skin temporarily, but will permanently stain clothing, so care should be used.

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