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Thrush is a yeast infection caused by the Candida species of fungus. Thrush is also known as candida or candidosis. It happens when a fungus called candida albicans grows too much.

Candida occurs naturally in the body, especially in warm, moist areas such as the mouth and genitals. It normally doesn't cause any problems because it is kept under control by the immune system and other bacteria in the body, but some factors can cause the fungus to grow, leading to infection.

Thrush infections usually appear in the mouth (oral thrush) or genitals. Candida is commonly found in the vagina, making thrush more likely to develop in women, but it can also be found in men. Men who have not been circumcised are more likely to develop thrush as the warmth and moisture under the foreskin encourages the fungus to grow.

Thrush isn't a sexually transmitted infection (STI) because many people already have a small amount of it in their bodies. It is more common in men who are not sexually active. Although the infection can be passed on through sex.

Thrush in women develops around the vagina and can be very sore. It develops in the same way as male thrush.



The main symptom of male thrush is balanitis which means inflammation of the penis. The head of your penis can be very itchy, red and sore. You may have pain when passing urine and it can be difficult to pull back the foreskin.

Small red spots are also noticeable on the head of the penis and a discharge from the penis is usually present. A cheese-like material called smegma that smells yeasty sometimes collects under the foreskin.

Thrush can cause the foreskin to swell and crack in some men. This is probably caused by an allergy to the yeast. The fungus has already multiplied by the time you notice any symptoms.

Thrush in women makes the vaginal area very sore with little red spots present. A yellowish discharge like substance can also be seen.



Thrush can be treated with over the counter anti-fungal creams or a single dose pill. Your GP may suggest using a steroid cream as well as the anti-fungal medication to reduce the symptoms of the infection. If there is infection in the head of the penis then a steroid cream should not be used by itself because steroids can make the infection worse.

Thrush in women can be treated with antifungal cream and oral medication. It usually clears up within a few days of this treatment starting.


Source NHS-CKS

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