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Thrush in men and women

overview

Thrush is a yeast (fungal) infection that can affect the vagina, penis and skin.

Symptoms of thrush depend on where it is on the body. It usually causes itchiness, irritation and a white discharge that looks like cottage cheese.

Thrush can usually be treated with antifungal medicine from a doctor, pharmacist or sexual health clinic. Treatment should work within a week.

You’re more likely to get thrush if your skin is irritated or damaged, you're taking antibiotics or you have poorly controlled diabetes.

Read more on the NHS website.

Symptoms of thrush depend on where it is on the body. It usually causes itchiness, irritation and a white discharge that looks like cottage cheese.

Check if you have thrush

Thrush symptoms in women

Thrush symptoms in men

Thrush can affect other areas of skin, such as the armpits, groin and between the fingers.

This usually causes a red, itchy or painful rash that scales over with white or yellow discharge. The rash may not be so obvious on darker skin.

Sometimes thrush causes no symptoms at all.

Read more on the NHS website.

Thrush can usually be treated with antifungal medicine from a doctor, pharmacist or sexual health clinic. Treatment should work within a week.

Medical treatments

You'll usually need antifungal medicine to get rid of thrush. This can be a tablet you take, a tablet you insert into your vagina (pessary) or a cream to relieve the irritation.

Thrush should clear up within a week, after 1 dose of medicine or using the cream daily.

You do not need to treat partners unless they have symptoms.

Recurring thrush

You might need to take treatment for longer (for up to 6 months) if you keep getting thrush (you get it more than twice in 6 months).

Your GP or sexual health clinic can help identify if something is causing your thrush, such as your period or sex.

They'll recommend how often you should use treatment.

Self-care


Do

  • use water and emollient (like E45 cream) instead of soap to wash the affected area

  • dry properly after washing

  • wear cotton underwear

  • take showers instead of baths

  • avoid sex until thrush has cleared up – if you do have sex, use a condom to help stop it spreading

Important

Antifungal creams can damage condoms and diaphragms. This means your contraception might not work.


Don't

  • do not use soaps or shower gels

  • do not use douches or deodorants on your vagina or penis

  • do not wear tight underwear or tights

Read more on the NHS website.

You’re more likely to get thrush if your skin is irritated or damaged, you're taking antibiotics or you have poorly controlled diabetes.

Read more on the NHS website.