What is thrush?
Thrush is a fungal infection caused by a group of yeasts called candida, and it is also known as candidiasis. Thrush in women is the kind of thrush that people are most likely to think of, but there are other kinds of thrush such as oral thrush and a kind of male thrush which affects the penis.
Thrush isn’t a sexually transmitted infection and it’s actually more common than you may realise. Some people are more likely to get thrush than others, such as obese people, those with a weakened immune system and those with type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Certain people may also find they are prone to recurrent thrush.
What are the symptoms of thrush?
Thrush symptoms vary depending on the kind of thrush that you have, and sometimes you can have no symptoms at all.
Some common signs of genital thrush can include itching, soreness, and a white discharge that looks a bit like cottage cheese.
With oral thrush, you may have soreness and redness in your mouth as well as small white patches. It’s also possible that you might have an unpleasant taste in your mouth or a complete loss of taste.
Thrush can also affect different parts of the body, such as the groin, the armpits and in between the fingers. Symptoms here include a painful and itchy rash accompanied by yellow or white discharge.
What causes thrush?
A kind of yeast called candida albicans causes this infection. These yeasts are always present in the body, particularly in warm and moist areas such as in and around the mouth and genitals, but they only become an issue when they get out of control.
If something upsets the balance of bacteria and microorganisms in the body, like an illness, underlying condition or other medication, the candida yeasts can grow out of control. This is what causes thrush.
How can you treat thrush?
Thrush is treated by antifungal medicine. Depending on the type of thrush you have, this might be a cream, a tablet you swallow, or a tablet called a pessary that you insert into your vagina.
Usually one dose of medication is enough to treat thrush, and it is likely to be gone within a week. If your symptoms last for two weeks, you should see your GP to rule out any underlying conditions.
What can you do to help prevent thrush?
There are different steps you can take to help prevent thrush.
To prevent genital thrush, you should be sure that nothing you wear on your lower body is too tight, and if possible wear underwear made from cotton or silk. It’s also best to avoid perfumed shower gels and soaps.
Oral thrush can be prevented by ensuring you follow good oral hygiene, including brushing your teeth twice a day, having regular check-ups with your dentist and ensuring dentures are clean and fit well if you wear them. You should also rinse your mouth well if you use a corticosteroid inhaler at any time.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do you get thrush?
Thrush is caused by a yeast called candida albicans, which is always present in the body. If you become ill or start a new medication, an imbalance in your body’s bacteria can result in the candida yeast growing too quickly and causing the thrush infection.
What does thrush look like?
Depending on the type of thrush, it can have different symptoms. Genital thrush symptoms can include a thick discharge, along with soreness and itching. Oral thrush symptoms can also include soreness and redness, as well as small white patches in the mouth. You may also find yourself losing your sense of taste, or developing a nasty taste in your mouth.