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Thrush (candida albicans) - affects women, men, babies and animals. How to cure.

Updated on August 30, 2013
Oral Thrush
Oral Thrush
Male Thrush
Male Thrush
Hoof Thrush
Hoof Thrush

Thrush or candida albicans is a fungal infection affecting the vagina, penis, mouths of both adults and young children and those who are HIV positive. In addition it can affect animals, particularly horses’ hooves.

Vaginal thrush - In women, thrush in this area can cause bouts of a common yeast infection known simply as vaginal thrush. This causes itching, irritation and swelling of the vagina and surrounding area, sometimes accompanied by a creamy white discharge. Vaginal thrush is very common but fairly harmless although it can be uncomfortable and it can keep coming back, which is known as recurrent thrush. This is not a sexually transmitted disease although the symptoms are similar. If you have any doubts your doctor will be able to confirm this for you. Around three-quarters of women will have a bout of thrush at some point. Up to half of these will have thrush more than once. Thrush most commonly affects women in their twenties and thirties. It is less common in girls who have not yet started their periods and women who have been through the menopause. While any woman can experience a bout of thrush, you're particularly prone to it if you are pregnant, take antibiotics have diabetes or have a weakened immune system.

Male thrush - With men it can occur spontaneously or be transmitted from the woman if the man’s immune system is poor. It usually affects the head of the penis (Balanitis) causing inflammation, and an odorous discharge with pain when passing urine.

Oral Thrush- Oral thrush is a common and usually harmless fungal infection in the mouth mostly affecting children under two years of age. However it.can affect both women and men but it is not considered contagious. It results in an unpleasant taste, soreness, possibly a burning sensation on the tongue and difficulty swallowing. Candida albicans fungus naturally occurs in small quantities in the mouth.. Oral thrush develops when these levels increase possibly as a result of taking inhaled steroids, poor oral hygiene, smoking, or a weakened immune system. In addition you will be prone to developing oral thrush if you: are on a course of antibiotics, particularly over a long period or if you are taking high doses, or wear false teeth (around seven in 10 people who wear dentures will get oral thrush at some stage). Those, male or female who have type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes find that oral thrush is five times more common in people with severe type 1 diabetes than normal. The same applies to those who use an asthma inhaler to take corticosteroid medication.

Thrush in pregnancy - As mentioned above you are more at risk of getting thrush while you're pregnant but there is no evidence that thrush will affect your chances of conception. However you can be assured that if you have thrush while you are pregnant, it won't harm your unborn baby. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding and contract thrush, you should avoid taking oral anti-thrush treatments, instead, use vaginal pessaries, plus an anti-thrush cream if necessary.

Thrush in babies - Oral thrush is quite common, affecting around 1 in 20 babies. It is most common in 4 week babies, although older babies can get it too. Premature babies (babies born before 37 weeks) have an increased risk of developing oral thrush. Otherwise healthy new-born babies can also be affected as the condition can be passed from mother to baby during labour if the mother's vagina is infected. It can also be passed through breastfeeding. The main symptom of oral thrush is one or more white spots or patches of fungus in your baby's mouth together with a whitish sheen to their saliva.

HIV and Thrush - Very rarely, oral thrush in adults can indicate another condition or illness, such as HIV, cancer, diabetes or anemia. However, having oral thrush doesn't necessarily mean you have HIV, AIDS or any other condition. If your infection is related to another condition, you'll probably have other more serious symptoms which your doctor can identify. When your doctor has assessed your symptoms, they may ask about other infections such as vaginal thrush or Balanitis. (Balanitis is inflammation of the head of the penis) caused by a bacterial or fungal infection.. If you've been at risk of HIV infection but haven't been diagnosed, your doctor may also offer you an HIV test. If you are HIV positive, you will be almost certainly under the care of a specialist who will arrange any treatment you need, such as antiviral medicine to help your immune system. These specialists are usually based in HIV or STD clinics. HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) can develop into AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome). If you have AIDS, your immune system will be severely weakened by HIV and you will find it harder to fight off illness and infection. Oral candida infections affect up to 48% of HIV sufferers and over 90% of people with AIDS. If you have HIV and leave oral thrush untreated, it can develop into a serious problem, lasting for months or years. In addition to oral thrush, people with HIV can develop acute atrophic oral candidiasis, another type of oral candida, which can develop after you have oral thrush. People with AIDS can also develop thrush infections deeper within their bodies, for example, in their trachea, throat or lungs.

Animals and thrush -

Candidiasis in Dogs and cats.

In the same way as humans Candida is a type of sugar-digesting yeast that forms part of the normal flora in an animal’s mouth, nose, ears, and gastrointestinal and genital tracts. This type of yeast is opportunistic and will sometimes colonize or invade damaged tissues of immuno-suppressed animals. This type of fungal infection can afflict dogs and cats of any age and breed, and can take place in one specific part of the body (local), or it can colonize the entire body (systemic). Either affliction is likely to cause extreme discomfort to your pet. In the initial stages you should consult your vet.


Before we discuss this I would personally not recommend unskilled home treatment. Equine Thrush is an unpleasant infection of the horse’s frog, which is predisposed by moist, damp, dirty ground or stable conditions. This results in an infection of the central and lateral sulcus (clefts) of the frog of the horse’s foot, most often involving bacterial and occasionally fungal infection. There is a species of bacterium (Fusobacterium necrophorum) which is particularly aggressive, invading and destroying the frog, sometimes exposing the deeper sensitive tissues. If the horse has an imbalanced foot in the lateromedial (inside-outside) plane then this also predisposes the horse to thrush. If infected, a foul smelling black discharge in the affected sulcus of the frog, results and there is likely to be pain on applying pressure to the area. The hind feet are more often affected than the front feet and, occasionally, infection may result in a general swelling of the distal (lower) limb.

The horse should be moved to a dry clean environment. The foot should be thoroughly cleaned out, removing debris from within the affected frog sulcus, and then the horn is pared out down to healthy tissue, allowing air to reach any remaining damaged tissues. The frog and its sulcus should be scrubbed daily with dilute iodine solution or other antiseptic solutions. Thereafter, the horse should be kept in clean, dry stable conditions and the frog should be cleaned and treated regularly until the infection is controlled and the tissues heel.

Treatment for thrush in humans.

If you have suffered vaginal thrush before and you recognise your symptoms, you can simply treat it by using anti-thrush medication over the counter. The treatment is usually a tablet that you take by mouth or anti-thrush pessaries that you insert into your vagina. Creams are also available that you can apply to the skin around the vagina to ease any soreness and itchiness.. If you know you have a weakened immune system you should refer any case of thrush to your doctor.. This is because there is a risk that a thrush infection could deteriorate to a more serious case of invasive candidiasis.

Oral thrush is usually treated with antifungal medicines, available in the form of gels, tablets, creams or mouth rinses. You can reduce the chance of getting oral thrush by, brushing your teeth twice daily, having regular dental check-ups, keeping your dentures clean and stopping smoking. In babies most cases of oral thrush clear up in a few days without the need for treatment as the babies immune system develops, but you should draw it to the attention of your health visitor. Be careful with the use of gels in baby treatment as some are not suitable.

In the case of men with thrush affecting the penis it can be treated with a tablet called fluconazole available from the chemist. For thrush infections in your groin or elsewhere the chemist can normally supply a cream or ointment. It is helpful that you take precautions to avoid the infection by cleaning your penis regularly (particularly if uncircumcised) and using a condom while having sex with your partner if either of you are infected. Wear loose-fitting cotton underwear which can help prevent moisture building up under your foreskin, which lowers the chances of the candida fungus multiplying.

Natural treatment

The body's immune system is complex and intelligent. It has the ability to remember previous infections and can quickly make antibodies from memory to fight off organisms. Antibodies, however, are not used for fungal infections but T-cells (T lymphocytes) are. The gland responsible for the production of fungal fighting T-cells is the thymus which will be not fully functioning. Thymus extracts are available but they are sourced from sheep and for that reason I would prefer to recommend immune boosting mushrooms that will have the same effect. These are available as a multi-supplement which incorporate Maitake, Reishi, Cordyceps and Shiitake and are available as "Mighty Mushrooms" from Victoria Health

There are two antifungal herbs - one from South America Pau d'arco and Horopito from New Zealand. Pau d'arco is available from Rio Trading

In order to disable the enzyme thrush needs to multiply, you can use Colloidal Silver which is available as a cream or spray.

Most people know of the yoghurt cure but patients must exclude yeast and fermented foods, from their diet, at the same time. Patients often suffer cystitis at the same time (normally the reason for the antibiotics). Using essential oils in conjunction with antibiotics and yoghurt can often break the cycle.

Essential oil treatment uses baths, massage and local application of Ti-tree, Lavender and Myrrh all of which are antifungal (Ti-tree (Tea Tree) is also an immunostimulant to help fight the infection). Blend the essential oils with either Argan or Rose Hip oil which will help soothe the area.

Never use the essential oils on or inside the genitals or inside or around the mouth. In the case of young children the blend may be used on the soles of the feet.

Treatment with essential oils needs to be continued for a considerable period of time although the symptoms may disappear (3 to 6 months) In all cases do not discontinue the treatment too soon otherwise the infection will re-occur very quickly.

Thrush - How do you cope

Have you ever suffered from thrush and how did you deal with it ?

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© 2012 Peter Geekie


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    • Peter Geekie profile imageAUTHOR

      Peter Geekie 

      7 years ago from Sittingbourne

      Dear Jane

      Thank you for your comment, I'm glad it was of some help.

      kind regards Peter

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Thanks I've never seen it explained like this before


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