Guide to Thrush


Thrush is caused by a yeast infection called Candida which usually lives harmlessly on parts of the body. Thrush occurs if the level of yeast increases, with growth tending to occur in warm, moist conditions and developing if the balance of bacteria changes. The balance may be disturbed by hormonal changes (menstruation, contraceptive pill, pregnancy, menopause), poor health, antibiotics, perfumed soaps, bath additives and tight clothing, not just poor hygiene. 

Thrush is a common yeast infection that affects both men and women. Although it is usually harmless, it can be uncomfortable and recurrent but is not classified as a sexually transmitted infection (STI). Symptoms in men and women do differ slightly as seen below, but can affect the armpits, groin and between the fingers in both sexes, causing a red, itchy or painful rash that scales over with white or yellow discharge.

Symptoms in women

Symptoms in men

·  White, odourless vaginal discharge

·  Itching and irritation around the vagina

· Soreness and stinging during sex or when you urinate

·      Irritation, burning and redness around the head of the penis or under the foreskin

·      White discharge (like cottage cheese)

·      An unpleasant smell

·      Difficulty pulling back the foreskin


Antifungal medication is often required to clear up the symptoms of thrush which can be taken as a tablet, inserted into the vagina (pessary) or a cream to relieve the itching. After starting treatment the symptoms clear up within 7 to 14 days and you do not need to treat partners unless they have symptoms too.

This medication can be purchased over the counter in one of our pharmacies or online.

Avoiding thrush

  • Wear cotton knickers and loose clothing
  • Wash daily
  • After going to the toilet, wipe from the front to back 
  • Change your sanitary protection regularly
  • Try to avoid wearing tights, nylon knickers and close-fitting jeans
  • Try to avoid washing with perfumed soaps or using vaginal deodorants
  • Do not wash or rub yourself hard with sponges or flannels and avoid hot baths with strong perfumed oils

When to seek medical help?



·      Irregular vaginal bleeding.

·      Abnormal vaginal bleeding or a blood-stained discharge.

·      Ulcers, blisters or sores of the vagina or vulva.

·      Lower abdominal pain.

·      Pain or difficulty in passing urine.

·      Fever or chills.

·      Nausea or diarrhoea.

·      A foul-smelling discharge from the vagina

·      Your sexual partner does not have thrush.

·      You have sores, ulcers or blisters on your penis.

·      You have an abnormal discharge from your penis. 

·      Your penis has started to smell.

·      You have pain or difficulty in passing urine.