What is thrush?
Thrush is a fungal infection affecting men and women, characterised by an overgrowth of the candida fungus. There are several forms of thrush that can affect different parts of the body, the most common of which is genital thrush, which affects the penis or vagina. Babies, elderly or immunodeficient adults may be susceptible to oral thrush. Thrush can also appear on other areas of the body if the conditions are suitable, like the armpits, groin or between the fingers.
What causes thrush?
Thrush often grows in warm and humid areas of the body such as the genital region. Genital thrush may appear after sexual intercourse but it is not classed as a sexually transmitted infection. Some causes of genital thrush include:
- Hormone changes
- Perfumed bathing products
- Not properly drying after washing
Some factors can increase your risk of getting a thrush infection such as:
- Other underlying health conditions that weaken the immune system
What are the symptoms of thrush?
The symptoms of genital thrush in women are:
- A white, usually odourless discharge from the vagina that looks similar to cottage cheese
- Irritation and itching around the vagina
- Stinging or soreness when you urinate or during sex
For men, the symptoms of genital thrush are:
- A white discharge from the penis that looks similar to cottage cheese
- Irritation or redness on the head of the penis or under the foreskin
- Difficulty pulling back the foreskin
What are the other types of thrush?
- Oral thrush - This is caused by an overgrowth of the candida fungus in the mouth area. For oral thrush, the symptoms usually present include white patches in the mouth that can be wiped off to leave red patches; a loss of taste or an unpleasant taste in the mouth; and pain or a burning sensation in the mouth. Oral thrush may be triggered by smoking, a recent course of antibiotics, poor oral hygiene, or wearing dentures.
- Fungal skin infections - These are known as tinea infections and there are several types that affect different areas of the body. Some examples are ringworm, fungal nail infections and athlete’s foot.