Is oral thrush contagious? Oral thrush treatment including home remedies, Pictures

What is Oral thrush?

Candida albicans is the species largely responsible for oral candidiasis which is the most common human fungal infection especially in childhood and the elderly. Oral thrush is a condition in which a rash may appear inside your mouth, which is of strange white color. This kind of infection is caused by the fungus Candida, a form of yeast. The candida is responsible for oral thrush in the mouth. Candida can also cause diaper rash and vaginal yeast infections in women.

What causes oral thrush in baby's mouth?

People with weekend immune system are more prone to get this infection more easily. This condition is not contagious and can be treated successfully with antifungal medications. Candidiasis is also called as oral candidiosis and it is named so because it is caused by fungus Candida.

What is the prognosis of oral thrush?

The prognosis of the oral thrush depends upon the severity of the infection and it also depends upon the immunity of the patient. A person with stronger immune system is less likely to develop the oral thrush.

Mild cases of thrush caused by some of the reversible risk factors are generally easily treated, and the prognosis is good. Symptoms usually go away in two weeks once you started the treatment. But some cases are severe where the thrush lasts for longer even with treatment. If not treated properly, oral thrush can reappear. Oral thrush in children and infants is not generally life-threatening. It usually goes away on its own without any proper medical treatment. You should consult your child’s physician, if the oral thrush does not improve within two weeks. The life threatening complications are more observed in patients with weekend immune system. Severe Candida infections are seen to cause death in patients with poor immunity. You may be recommended a systemic antifungal treatment along with long term hospitalization.

What are symptoms and signs of oral thrush?

Oral thrush is characterized by a thick white coating of the tongue, inner cheeks, inner lip region, or gums. It should not be confused with common off-white discoloration of the tongue that may be caused by breast milk or infant formula debris in infants. It is different from milk debris in:

  1. Milk debris is of off-white color where as Candida infection is of very bright white color.
  2. Milk debris is limited to tongue only whereas the Candida infection covers buccal surface, inner lip area, and gingiva.
  3. Milk debris can easily be cleaned by moist cloth whereas the Candida infection is adherent to a skin surface.
  4. Milk debris and oral thrush does not cause any discomfort or any other symptoms when limited to mouth.

Candida infections of the mouth symptoms, causes, treatments and pictures

Other symptoms such as redness and tenderness are prominent in maternal nipple or areola Candidiasis.  The rashes associated with Candida diaper dermatitis are generally not as troublesome because common diaper rash associated with irritation from excessive stool and urine contact with infant’s skin.

Based upon appearance, oral thrush is divided into three groups:

  1. Pseudomembranous: The most common form of oral thrush.
  2. Erythematous (atrophic): The condition appears red raw rather than white.
  3. Hyperplastic: It is also known as plaque-like candidiasis or nodular candidiasis. It is called so because of presence of sold white plaque which is hard to remove

There are a number of other lesions that can also appear with oral thrush. Sometimes, these lesions might be due to other types of bacteria that are also present in the area. These can include:

  • Angular cheilitis– inflammation and/or splitting in the corners of the mouth
  • Median rhomboid glossitis a large, red, painless mark in the center of the tongue
  • Linear gingival erythema a band of inflammation running across the gums

How is oral thrush diagnosed?

A physical examination of your mouth and tongue for the characteristic white bumps are beneficial in diagnosing the oral thrush.  A biopsy film can be collected by your doctor for better diagnosis. In which, a very small bump in the mouth done by the little scrapping on the tongue. The presence of C. albicans is tested on the sample in the laboratory. Further, you will be recommended for more small procedures to ensure accurate diagnosis in case doctor found your esophagus became infected.  The small procedure involves throat culture and an endoscopy.

Throat culture:

A sample of infected tissue is collected from the back of your throat. The collected sample will be sent to laboratory for analysis.


In this doctor use a thin tube with an attached light and the camera called as an endoscope. The endoscope is inserted in your mouth and passed into your esophagus, in order to examine the infected area. This is a painful procedure but a accurate method for diagnosis of infection. In this, a tissue sample is also removed for inspection.

Who’s at risk of oral thrush?

Small kids and toddlers are at the greatest risk of developing oral thrush. However, oral thrush can also be spread in a person who has weaker immune system. You can suffer from oral thrush if you have:

  • AIDS, diabetes or anemia
  • Dry mouth
  • Take medications like corticosteroids
  • You take medications for treating cancer or chemotherapy
  • You wear dentures
  • Smoke cigars
  • In case you underwent an organ transplant

Is oral thrush contagious?

  • A number of mechanisms are involved in passing of oral thrush from one person to another. In new born, the infant can get infected if he/she is exposed to vaginal birth if mother has a vaginal yeast infection.
  • Candida contaminated nipples can also be a route of infection to the newborn infant.
  • Overgrowth of little amount of Candida in the mouth of children, teenagers, and adults can also leads to severe oral thrush.
  • Using and infected inhaler that may be caused by improper rinse of inhaler with water after using an inhaled corticosteroid can also lead to oral thrush.’
  • Animals are usually not a mode of transmission of oral thrush.

How long does thrush last in a baby?

How can I prevent Oral thrush?

Oral thrush can be easily diagnosed in people with dentures by examining the buccal mucosa after they have removed dentures. Doctor should assess the type, severity, and chronicity of the infection and thereby he or she should resolve the infection and predisposing factors if identified. After proper diagnosis of this disease, you should try to prevent the recurrence of the disease by:

  • You should maintain a good oral hygiene by brushing your teeth twice daily. You should also floss your teeth once a day.
  • If you have disease like diabetes or you wear dentures, you should practice regular follow ups of dental checkups.
  • You should visit your dentists every 6 months even if you don’t have any dental problem.
  • The balance of bacteria can be disturbed if you are suffering from HIV or diabetes. The bacterial imbalance in mouth can also lead to oral thrush.
  • You should maintain a regular intake of medicines if you are advised to do so.
  • Mouthwashes and oral sprays are meant for keeping the freshness at bay and for keeping the bacteria away from mouth. But you should never overuse such products.
  • You should use mouthwashes once a day in order to keep your gums healthy but overuse can disturb the oral flora of your mouth and can also lead to oral thrush.
  • If you are suffering from diseases like asthma or COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), you should clean your inhalers after each use in order to kill germs.
  • You should not consume the food that contains sugar and yeast. For example: bread, beer, and wine because such foods can cause extra yeast growth that can exacerbate the condition like oral thrush.

What are some home remedies for oral thrush?

These suggestions may help during an outbreak of oral thrush:

  • You should try using saltwater rinses in order to soothe the pain associated with oral thrush. In this, you should dissolve ½ tsp of salt in 1 cup of warm water. Gargle with this water, but do not swallow this water.
  • You can also try nursing pads, if you are breast feeding and developed an infection; it will help you to prevent the fungus from spreading to your clothes.
  • Avoid using the nursing pads with wire as they can promote the growth of Candida. Wear a clean bra every day.
  • Maintain proper hygiene and cleanliness of your nipples, bottles nipples, pacifiers and many detachable parts of a breast pump.
  • You should always practice good oral hygiene. Make sure that you brush and floss regularly. Do not share your toothbrushes.
  • Ask your dentist for the best way to disinfect your dentures to avoid re-infection.

Treatment of oral thrush

The good starting points in diagnosing this disease are taking a history and then thorough examination of the mouth, looking at the palate (soft and hard as well). It can be easily diagnose in people with dentures by examining the buccal mucosa after they have removed dentures. Doctor should assess the type, severity, and chronicity of the infection and thereby he or she should resolve the infection and predisposing factors if identified. The characteristic lesions, response to an antifungal treatment, and other possibilities development can be some crucial factors that can make a diagnosis perfect.

Treatment for oral thrush varies depending on your age and overall health. The purpose of treatment is to prevent the growth and spread of the fungus.

Medical treatment for oral thrush may consist of:

Antifungal medications:

  1. Fluconazole: Oral antifungal medication
  2. Clotrimazole: Lozenges form that dissolves in mouth cavity.
  3. Nystatin: antifungal mouthwash that you swish around in your mouth and then swallow
  4. Itraconazole: It is the treatment which is effective in people who are suffering from HIV or diabetes, or in those who are resistant to other treatments.
  5. Amphotericin B: Medication for multiple infections.

An at-home regimen for treating oral thrush should include:

  • You should always use a soft tooth brush for brushing your teeth in order to avoid scraping of lesions.
  • You should try to replace your toothbrush every other day until the infection disappears completely.
  • A saline water or saltwater instead of mouthwashes or oral sprays are beneficial in rinsing your mouth.
  • If you are suffering from any kind of long term illness such as diabetes, you should regulate your blood sugar level.
  • You can also eat unsweetened yogurt as it will help you to restore and maintain healthy levels of good bacteria

When a breastfeeding infant has oral thrush, both the mother and infant should be treated to prevent a cycle of re-infection. Treatment in these cases may include:

  • You should use and oral antifungal medication for the baby and for the topical antifungal medication for mother’s breasts as well.
  • A proper hygiene regime is of at most importance, you should rinse pacifiers, bottle nipples, and all parts of breast pump properly. In order to wash this, you should make a solution of water and vinegar in equal parts and you should always use them after drying.

Once treatment begins, oral thrush usually goes away within a couple of weeks. However, the infection may return again in the future. A complete cure is more likely if you have a healthy immune system and are free of other diseases

What are some facts about oral thrush?

We have already discussed in detail about the oral thrush. Let’s have some fast facts about it:

  • Oral thrush is not a major condition but a common problem.
  • Oral thrush affect worse in the people who have weaken immune system
  • After chemotherapy or radiotherapy to the neck and head, oral thrush start occurring more regularly
  • People with diabetes, dentures, or those who are taking steroids are at target of oral thrush
  • You can easily recognize the oral thrush by checking a white-colored deposits n the mouth which are different from the milk debris often formed in mouth of infants.

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