What is oral thrush?
Oral thrush is an overgrowth of the candida fungus inside the mouth.
What causes oral thrush?
The candida fungus is already present in the mouth and digestive system so it is not contagious but if there is an overgrowth of the candida fungus, it can lead to oral thrush. There are several causes of oral thrush, including:
- Recently taking a course of antibiotics, especially over a long period or at a high dose
- Using a corticosteroid inhaler for asthma
- Wearing dentures that may not fit properly
- Having poor oral hygiene
- Having a dry mouth, possibly due to a medical condition or medication currently being taken
- Receiving chemotherapy or radiotherapy
Babies, elderly and immunocompromised people are at a higher risk of experiencing oral thrush.
What are the symptoms of oral thrush?
The symptoms of oral thrush can be displayed as:
- White plaque inside the mouth that can be wiped off, leaving behind red patches that bleed slightly
- A loss of taste or an unpleasant taste in the mouth
- Redness inside the mouth
- Cracking of the skin at the corners of the mouth
- Experiencing a painful, burning sensation inside the mouth
In some cases oral thrush may cause difficulty whilst eating and drinking.
What are the other forms of thrush?
- Genital thrush - This fungal infection is localised to the genitals and is caused by an overgrowth of the candida fungus. The symptoms typically include a white discharge from the penis or vagina, itching, soreness and redness around the genitals. Using perfumed products, a recent course of antibiotics or poor hygiene could be the cause of the overgrowth of candida fungus. Genital thrush is not a sexually transmitted disease but can appear after sexual intercourse.
- Fungal skin infection - There are several types of tinea infections which can be localised to various areas of the body. Some examples are ringworm (tinea corporis) that can affect the whole body; fungal nail infections (onychomycosis) that affect the nails; and athlete’s foot (tinea pedis) that affects the feet.