Thrush is an infection caused by an overgrowth of, or an allergic reaction to a  yeast called Candida albicans, which can be found in many areas of the body.  Thrush is not considered to be a sexually transmitted infection (STI).


It is normal to have small amounts of this yeast in the genital area, but a range of factors can cause the yeast to overgrow. These factors can include recent courses of antibiotics, soaps and detergents, and excessive sweating.

Signs and Symptoms

  • whitish, velvety lesions in the mouth and on the tongue
  • red tissue beneath the white lesions that may bleed easily
  • in women, symptoms may include genital itching, irritation or burning and/or an abnormal vaginal discharge
  • men may have itching and redness on the head of the penis (a condition known as balanitis). Some men find symptoms are more noticeable after sex. Sometimes, the itching is located in the wider groin area.


Thrush may be treated with antifungal creams or pessaries (tablets that are inserted into the vagina), or oral tablets. People with persistent or recurring  thrush infection may require longer-term treatment.

Thrush and HIV

Thrush on the genitals  or throat are more common and more severe for people  who are HIV positive. Some oral anti-fungal treatments can interact badly with HIV medicines, so always check with your doctor before taking them.


To avoid recurrences, uncircumcised men should wash the foreskin daily with warm water  and dry thoroughly,  It may also help to wear light cotton underwear and avoid tight restrictive clothing.