Frequently asked questions
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Q. Can my baby catch thrush through breast milk?
No, but if there is yeast on the skin of the breast it can infect the inside of the baby's mouth. Hygeine is therefore very important.
Q. How long does thrush last for? 1 day-2 weeks?
There is no good answer to this question as thrush is very variable. The length of time it causes a problem for depends on where it is, how extensive it is, why it has happened and the body's ability to deal with the infection. It will also be affected by whether is is treated and with what.
Q. How can you get rid of thrush? Injections, tablets?
Thrush is treated either directly with creams for the skin, pessaries for the vagina, or solution or lozenges for the mouth. There are also tablets or capsules that can be used in short or long courses. The choice of treatment depends once again on where it is, how extensive it is, why it has happened and the body's ability to deal with the infection.
Q. Are athlete’s foot and thrush the same thing?
They are both yeast infections though involve different varieties of yeast. These often sit on the skin without causing any problems but under certain conditions they are able to breach the defences, multiply and cause inflammation. This is what causes symptoms such as itching.
Q. Can boys also get a form of thrush?
Yes, it can cause boys a problem on the glans (head) of the penis particularly if they have not been circumcised.
Q. Can a baby catch thrush from nappy rash?
Nappy rash can have a yeast element to it which makes it look particularly red with little red spots around the edges. If unsure whether to use a thrush cream to treat this please check first with a health care professional.
Q. What is the best type of underwear to wear to keep thrush at bay? I keep getting it and want to do everything I can to prevent it.
The yeast that causes thrush is more easily able to multiply in warm moist environments. Very tight underwear styles such as thongs are therefore best avoided. It is preferable to choose a style that allows for some air movement and fabric that allows the skin to breathe. Natural fibres such as cotton are best.
Q. I've got a horrible rash between my legs which is so embarrassing, is this thrush?
There are a number of things that can give you a rash between your legs so its not necessarily thrush. It would be sensible to ask for the opinion of a doctor or nurse as to what it is so that you can treat it correctly.
Q. If you've never had thrush before what are the first symptoms you should look out for?
Vaginal thrush usually starts with itching but swelling and redness of the external genitalia and a thick discharge usually follows after. You should seek medical advice if you are experiencing symptoms for the first time.
Q. If you are taking medication for thrush, how long should it take to clear?
If taking or using a treatment for thrush the itching should usually ease in 2-3 days but it will generally take about 5 days to get better and treatments such as cream should be used for at least the recommended treatment length.
Q. My sister told me she has thrush and I don't want to catch it, should she should be using her own towel and soap just in case?
There really is no need to segregate soap but using a personal towel is advisable for many reasons and avoidance of thrush is just one of these. Yeast can survive off the body for a short while in damp environments and while generally it resides inside the body there is a small chance of transmission after drying infected toes, groins or the genital area.
Q. There are many natural medicines available, is there anything that can be used to help with the symptoms of thrush? Is it true that you can use yoghurt to help with the itching?
Yogurt will help with the symptoms of vaginal thrush if it applied directly. This can be done by soaking a small tampon in live natural yogurt and inserting for 10 minutes. This will relieve itching and go some way towards boosting the natural defence mechanisms within the vagina. Yogurt will not do much help thrush of the skin creases. These areas are best kept cool clean and dry with adequate airflow. Old fashioned advice to wear loose cotton underwear to help the groin area and open toed sandals for foot thrush still holds true.
Q. If my partner has given me thrush how will I know for sure? Will I experience itching symptoms?
It is impossible to know whether an episode of thrush is introduced by a partner or whether it is due to yeast that was already on your own body. The distinction is not important. Vaginal thrush characteristically results in itching of the vaginal entrance, swelling and reddening of the tissues and a thick white odourless discharge which is said to have the appearance of cottage cheese. This overall picture allows self diagnosis, but if you are unsure, or this is the first time you have experienced symptons, please ask to be examined by an experienced healthcare professional.
Q. Is there such a thing as oral thrush? If so, is it possible to pass onto my partner?
A. Yes oral thrush can occur but it is unusual in fit adults so there is usually a reason that allows it to happen. It is most typically seen in very young babies, people using steroid inhalers for asthma and the very elderly (you should seek advice from your doctor if they experience symptoms of this condition) - though there are other situations when the immune system is less able to combat it. If you did for any reason have a problem you should avoid oral sex and seek advice from your doctor.
Q. Can you get thrush from non-sexually transmitted means?
A. Vaginal thrush occurs when there is an overgrowth of yeast in the vagina. This is best regarded as contamination rather than infection and usually results from bowel derived organisms that have managed to take hold in the vagina. This occurs when the usual defence mechanisms are overwhelmed. The vagina relies both on acidic discharge and "friendly" bacteria to do this. Many things can affect this delicate balance but antibiotics that reduce the competition from "friendly" bacteria are one of the most common scenarios.
Sexual activity can introduce yeast from your partner or from your own skin. It is not regarded as a sexually transmitted infection but sex predisposes to it. This will therefore apply equally to same sex relationships or the use of sex toys.
It is not clear why some women are more prone to thrush than others, but the more common predisposing factors are
- taking antibiotics (due to their action on "friendly" bacteria)
- pregnancy (as there is more natural discharge and less resistance to infection at this time)
- wearing tight clothing (creating a humid environment)
- using cosmetic products that irritate the vagina or destroy the "friendly" bacteria
Q. I've had thrush a number of times and am currently trying for a baby with my partner. Can this affect chances of conception?
A. No, there's no evidence that previous or even current thrush makes any difference to your chance of getting pregnant other than if you are so afraid of it that you are not having sex. Maintain personal hygiene with simple non perfumed products, choose comfortable underwear that allows the skin to breathe, and look after your own health as that will discourage the thrush and be best for you and your baby. If you have had more than 2 episodes of thrush in a 6 month period, or experience thrush while you are pregnant, you should speak to your doctor.
Q. In the last few days my vagina has become sore and itchy, I think it might be thrush but I'm not sure, what should I do?
A. Suffering from a sore and itchy vagina is a symptom of thrush. 75% of women will suffer from thrush at some point in their lives. Other symptoms include unusual white discharge or suffering from pain while urinating or during sex. If you are experiencing any of these you should visit your GP. There are a number of simple treatments you can use which treat both the internal and external symptoms of thrush.
Q. I have had thrush a number of times. It keeps reoccurring but I don't know why, please help.
A. You can't always do that much to stop an attack of thrush as it is caused by changes in the body's natural balance that causes yeast to proliferate. However there are certain factors which are known to cause it to develop, these include; wearing tight or synthetic trousers or underwear, using perfumed deodorants or bubble baths regularly, pregnancy and certain antibiotics.
Thrush can also be passed on during sex and men can often have it without noticing. Try to work out when you get thrush and if there is a common catalyst for it, so you can prevent it from recurring. If you are experiencing recurring symptoms please seek advise form your GP.
Q. Can any medication such as antibiotics cause thrush, as I think I may have the symptoms.
A. If you've been on a course of antibiotics, you may experience thrush afterwards because they kill off bacteria - including the good bugs that normally stay in your vagina and keep it healthy. This gives the Candida yeast a chance to proliferate. It's not inevitable but it is something for you to watch out for. If you tend to get thrush after antibiotics, tell your doctor.