Thrush (also known as a yeast infection) is a common fungal infection caused by a variety of yeast known as Candida albicans. Thrush can affect the genitals or the mouth and often happens as a result of the normal balance of bugs in the body being disturbed i.e. through antibiotics. In men, it commonly causes irritation of the head of the penis, known as balanitis.
Thrush is caused by infection with the Candida albicans fungus. Infection can occur for various reasons. Thrush commonly appears as a side effect of antibiotics. Normally, harmless organisms in the mouth and genitals help the body defend against thrush infection. However, if you take antibiotics, you can damage this delicate balance, which may allow the thrush fungus to develop into an infection. If you are taking antibiotics and you experience a yeast infection, you should let your doctor know, but you should also continue to take the antibiotics. Thrush is not a sexually transmitted disease, but having sexual contact with someone who has thrush, can pass the fungus on to you, and you can get infected. It is best to avoid sex, including oral sex, during outbreaks of thrush.
Thrush is less common in men, but the infection is exactly the same as in female thrush. All thrush is caused by Candida albicans – a yeast that lives on your skin. Candida is usually kept in check, by other bacteria on your skin, but if the natural balance is upset, this can cause a fungal yeast infection (thrush).
Oral thrush affects the inside of the mouth. It tends to be caused by asthma inhalers, antibiotics, chemotherapy or dentures. It is also fairly common in babies. The symptoms include having a white coating on the tongue, soreness of the tongue and an unpleasant taste in the mouth. Oral thrush is caused by the same type of yeast as genital thrush.
Genital thrush affects the genitals. Both men and women can be affected, although it is more common in women. Genital thrush causes itching and discomfort to the genital region. It can be triggered by tight-fitting clothing/underwear, excessive sweating, perfumed soap products, or as a side effect of antibiotics.
In men, the symptoms of thrush may include:
The symptoms of oral thrush include:
Male thrush is usually treated by applying an antifungal cream to the affected area. This is available either from a GP on prescription or it can be bought over the counter from a pharmacist. If this is ineffective, fluconazole tablets can be prescribed. You should avoid sex while being treated for thrush as this can make it worse or cause you to pass it on to your partner.
Reinfection is common between men and women when one has a yeast infection. You can help to prevent reinfection by using barrier methods such as condoms and oral dams during sex. Men are more likely to carry the Candida albicans fungus without experiencing symptoms of thrush. This increases the chance of reinfection occurring, so it is a good idea for both partners to seek treatment to reduce the likelihood of recurring bouts of thrush.
Thrush is not a sexually transmitted disease, however, it can be passed through sexual contact. It can be passed via genital contact, oral contact, or between mouth and genitals during oral sex. It is best to avoid sex during an outbreak of thrush or to use a barrier method such as condoms and an oral dam. It is also good practice to avoid sharing towels with your partner to reduce the chances of the fungus spreading.
Thrush is more common in people who suffer from diabetes. This is because having high blood sugar alters the surface of your skin, making it more suited to the Candida fungus.