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HealthInfo Canterbury

Oral thrush

Thrush on childs tongueOral thrush is a common yeast infection in your mouth. It's usually harmless but it can be uncomfortable.

It's caused by the fungus Candida albicans which most people carry in their mouths without any problems. Usually your own immune system along with harmless bacteria on your skin help control the amount of Candida present. But sometimes the conditions in your body change, allowing the number of Candida to multiply, causing thrush.

Anyone can get thrush but it's more common in babies, older people with dentures and people with weakened immune systems.

You can also get thrush in other parts of your body including your throat, skin, gut and vagina.

You're more likely to get oral thrush if you:

Symptoms of oral thrush

Typical symptoms of oral thrush include:

If you are breastfeeding and your baby has oral thrush, you can both have symptoms.

Diagnosing oral thrush

If you think you have oral thrush, talk to your GP or pharmacist for advice. They will ask you questions about your symptoms and may look into your mouth.

Usually you don't need to have any tests but further testing may be needed if your doctor thinks the thrush has spread to your gut, where it can cause complications.

Treating oral thrush

Antifungal medicines that come in liquid (Nilstat), gel (miconazole) or tablets (Fungilin) will usually get rid of oral thrush. You can buy Nilstat liquid and miconazole gel from your pharmacy without a prescription. Talk to your pharmacist for advice to make sure you get the right medicine.

If you have a more severe infection, you may be prescribed fluconazole to take for seven days.

Preventing oral thrush

Practising good oral hygiene is one of the best ways to prevent oral thrush.

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Adapted from Health Navigator by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Page created August 2021.

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Review key: HIRWM-49695