What is thrush?




You’ve probably heard of thrush or yeast infections, but what are they really?


If you’re not sure, and you’ve found yourself with an unpleasant itching sensation in your genital area, you could be wondering if thrush is to blame.


Luckily, yeast infections can be pretty easy to spot, so let’s see if we can answer some of your questions about all things thrush.


What is a yeast infection?


Thrush is a common yeast infection that can affect men and women of all ages, with 75% of women suffering with thrush at least once in their lifetime.


Thrush happens when a natural yeast called Candida albicans grows inside your vagina or in other areas of the body.


If there is too much Candida for the good bacteria in your body to keep under control, you can develop thrush.

What are the symptoms of thrush?


Usually, when people think of thrush they think of vaginal thrush. This is when thrush occurs inside and around the vagina, causing irritation and itching in your intimate area.


Thrush has some very distinct symptoms which can make it very easy to spot, the most common symptoms of vaginal thrush are:


  • A white, cottage cheese-like discharge that doesn’t smell.
  • Itching or irritation around your vagina.
  • Swelling of your vaginal lips.
  • Soreness around the entrance of your vagina.
  • Soreness or stinging when you use the bathroom or during sex.


How do I treat thrush?


There are a number of medications that can be used to treat thrush and you can buy many of them over the counter.


When properly treated with one of the many anti-fungal medications available, thrush will usually clear up within a week, relieving all of your itching and discomfort.


Let’s take a look at some of the most popular ways to treat thrush.




Tablets are one of the most popular ways to treat thrush because they are so simple to use and work very effectively. Just one tablet could be effective enough to treat thrush within a week.


The active ingredient in thrush treatment tablets is usually fluconazole, which works as an antifungal treatment, helping to manage the yeast that is causing your infection.



Pessaries are tablets that you insert into your vagina. You insert them in a similar way to a tampon, making sure they’re far enough inside of your vagina that they won’t fall out.


Some pessaries come with an applicator which can make insertion much easier, but if you are pregnant you will be advised to insert the pessary by hand, as applicators could cause injury to your cervix.



Creams are usually used on your external intimate area alongside a tablet or pessary and help to provide fast relief for the irritating symptoms of thrush.


However, there are some creams that can be applied inside the vagina, helping to treat thrush from within.


You can buy external thrush treatment creams on their own, but many of them come paired with a tablet or pessary.


This dual approach is very popular as it means that you’ll be treating the cause of thrush while helping to ease the irritating symptoms all at once.

Where else can I get thrush?


Although thrush is commonly associated with your genitals, you can get thrush in other places on your body too.


We’ve found some of the most common places on your body that you can get thrush, and what symptoms you might see in each area.




Thrush in your mouth, also known as oral thrush, is one of the most common kinds of thrush.


Like vaginal thrush, it can be easily treated with antifungal medicine. If you have oral thrush you may notice:


  • An unpleasant taste in your mouth, being unable to taste things properly.
  • Difficulty eating and drinking.
  • White patches in your mouth which can bleed when wiped away.
  • Redness in the mouth.
  • A sore tongue or gums.




Thrush can develop in your nipples or in your breast tissue. If you have thrush in your breasts, you may experience:


  • Nipple and breast pain.
  • Burning, itching, or stinging nipples.
  • Nipples that are tender to touch.
  • Bright pink nipples or reddened areolas.
  • Shooting or stabbing pain in the breasts.
  • Aching or burning sensation through the breast or breasts.


You may also experience thrush underneath your breasts if your breasts are particularly large. This is because the candida which causes thrush can thrive in places that are warm, moist, or sweaty.


The undersides of large breasts and other skin folds such as the armpits or between the fingers are the ideal places for yeast infections to survive.



Can men get thrush?


Although thrush is more common in women, men can get thrush too.


When men get thrush, they can find that it affects their penis, causing discomfort that is similar to what women experience.


The most common symptoms of thrush in men include:


  • A white, cottage cheese-like discharge.
  • Difficulty pulling back the foreskin.
  • Irritation, burning, and redness around the foreskin and head of the penis.
  • Itching and burning sensations when using the bathroom or during sex.
  • An unpleasant smell.


Men who are suffering with thrush can use the same kinds of treatments available to women, tablets and creams, which can clear up thrush within a week.

Can babies and children get thrush?


Babies and children can both get thrush, although one kind of thrush is particularly common in babies and young children alike.


Babies and young children are particularly likely to get thrush in their mouths, this is because their immune systems are not developed enough to resist yeast infection as well as adults’.


When babies and children have oral thrush, they experience a lot of the same symptoms as adults, however they may also experience a white coating on their tongues.


This white, cottage cheese-like coating will not rub off easily and can also spread in patches over other areas of their mouth.


You’ll be glad to know that babies and children can both be treated for thrush with antifungal medication, which will be suggested by your doctor or healthcare worker. This medication will often be in the form of a gel.


Will I get thrush when I’m pregnant?


You can get thrush when you’re pregnant, in fact, many pregnant women will find that they are more prone to thrush than usual.


This is because your hormone levels change throughout your pregnancy, and this change in your body’s natural balance can give yeast the opportunity it needs to thrive.




Can I get thrush through taking antibiotics?


If you’re taking antibiotics for another health problem, you may find that you develop thrush as a result.


This is because the antibiotics kill off some of the healthy bacteria in your body that keeps Candida in check, allowing it to grow and cause a yeast infection.


Can I catch thrush from another person?


Considering that thrush occurs so commonly around the genitals, many people wonder whether they can catch thrush when they have sex with someone.


You’ll be happy to learn that thrush is not an STI and although it can be transferred to your partner during sex, the chances of this happening are unlikely.


With that being said, some people choose to avoid sex while they have thrush, as it can make intercourse painful and uncomfortable.


Mother’s of infants who have oral thrush may find that they can catch thrush too.


If your baby has thrush in their mouth, then a breastfeeding mother could catch thrush on their breasts and nipples.



How can I prevent thrush?


So, you’ve had thrush. You know how unpleasant it can be and you’d rather it didn’t come back. What can you do to prevent thrush from making a nuisance of itself?


We’ve found a few simple changes you can make to help keep thrush at bay.


For starters, avoid using perfumed products and deodorants around your intimate area, instead use water to wash your penis or vagina and make sure the area is properly dried after cleaning. Taking showers instead of baths can help with this.


Wearing cotton underwear instead of synthetic materials can also help to prevent thrush, as can changing your underwear after swimming or working out.


If you have thrush, you may want to consider avoiding sex until the infection has cleared. However, if you do choose to have sex, try using a condom to prevent your yeast infection spreading to your partner.



Well that’s all of the thrush information we have for you today!


Hopefully you learned a little something about thrush and what symptoms it can cause, but if you still have questions feel free to contact our pharmacists at Chemist 4 U for some sound advice.

Laura Henderson - Medical Content Writer
James O'Loan - CEO & Superintendent Pharmacist
James O'Loan , CEO & Superintendent Pharmacist on 22 September 2021
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