Thrush is a yeast infection, caused by a fungus called candida.1
This fungus is found naturally in the body and does not usually cause any problems.
However, it does love warm, moist conditions, which cause it to multiply and result in irritation, itchiness and soreness.
Vaginal thrush is the most common and well-known types of yeast infection, and it is estimated that three in four women will be affected by thrush at some point during their lives.2
If you have had thrush, then you will know first-hand just how irritating it can be.
But did you know that thrush can also affect other parts of the body? Since these types of thrush are less common, they are less talked about and so you might not have heard of them.
Here we explore some of the less common types of thrush, along with their effects on the body.
Thrush in men
Although thrush more commonly affects women, men can get it too.
Thrush in men, also known as candida balantis, has similar symptoms to thrush in women but affects the tip of the penis and the foreskin, rather than the vagina and the vulva.3
Penile thrush symptoms include redness, burning and irritation on the head of the penis and underneath the foreskin as well as a thick lumpy discharge.4
Thrush in men, although irritating, is easily treated with either an oral tablet or a topical cream. Both of these are available over the counter from a pharmacist.
Suggestions to help prevent male thrush developing include washing and drying the penis properly and regularly, avoiding the use of perfumed soaps and shower gels when washing and wearing loose cotton underwear to help keep the penis cool and dry.5
Oral thrush is common in babies and older people with dentures and affects the inside of the mouth.
Oral yeast infection symptoms in adults include6:
- redness and white patches
- cracks at the corners of the mouth
- an unpleasant taste
- sore tongue or gums
- difficulty eating and drinking
Oral thrush is not contagious and can be easily treated with a mouth gel, available over the counter from your pharmacist.7
To help prevent oral thrush, ensure that you brush your teeth twice a day, clean your dentures and go for regular check-ups at the dentist. You should also brush your teeth and gums with a soft toothbrush.8
Sterilising dummies and bottles after each use can help to prevent oral thrush in babies.9
Nail yeast infections
Yeast infections in the finger or toenails can cause painful, red swelling around the infected area, which may also leak fluid. In the worst cases, the nail may separate and leave a discoloured white or yellow nail bed.10
Fungal infections are more common in the toenails than fingernails and can also cause thickened and discoloured nails, which become brittle.
It usually starts at the edges and then spreads to the middle.11
Candidiasis of the skin
Candidiasis of the skin causes red, itchy rashes which can be painful, most commonly in the folds of the skin and areas like the armpits, groin, under the breasts and between the fingers.
The rash may scale over and have yeast infection bumps. And there may also be a white or yellow discharge.12
Ways to help avoid candidiasis of the skin include changing your socks and underwear regularly, wearing loose fitting clothing and changing quickly out of damp or wet clothing, such as swimsuits or sweaty workout clothes.13
Unlike mouth or genital thrush, an invasive thrush infection is a very serious infection that can affect the blood, heart, brain, eyes and bones, amongst other parts of the body.14
The most common symptoms of this type of thrush are a fever and chills which do not improve, even after treatment with antibiotics.15
Other symptoms may include hypotension, pustular skin lesions and abnormal abscesses.16
Certain groups of people are more at risk of developing candidiasis and these include people who have spent a lot of time in an intensive care unit, have a weakened immune system, have a condition like diabetes, or who have recently undergone surgery.17
If you think you have symptoms of any of these less common types of thrush, you should seek advice from your GP.
Last updated: 1 March 2021