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What are the Different Treatments for Thrush?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 17 November 2016
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A number of treatments for thrush can be used, ranging from allowing the thrush to clear normally in a healthy patient to using antifungal drugs to address the infection in people with compromised immune systems. Treatment options vary depending on whether the patient has oral or vaginal thrush, the patient's age, health, and other medical issues which could complicate the treatment.

For patients who are healthy, from childhood to adulthood, thrush can often clear up on its own. Whether oral or vaginal, the thrush can be treated by eating a balanced diet to provide support to the immune system so that it can fight the fungus. If people want to clear the thrush more quickly, they can eat unsweetened yogurt with live active cultures, or take acidophilus supplements. In the case of vaginal thrush, the yogurt can be applied to the vagina; soaking a tampon in yogurt and inserting it is often an effective method of delivery which minimizes messiness. Another natural treatment option is topical application of gentian violet, which can clear up thrush very effectively although it will cause purple staining.

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If the thrush is persistent, there are antifungal medications which are available to treat thrush. These treatments for thrush include topical creams for the treatment of vaginal thrush and oral lozenges for oral thrush. If a patient has a compromised immune system, antifungal treatments for thrush may be recommended immediately to prevent the spread of the infection and to avoid complications. Patients taking recurrent antibiotics, cancer patients, and patients with AIDS are usually told to take antifungal medications immediately, rather than waiting to see if the thrush resolves on its own.

In breastfeeding mothers, treatment for thrush can be a bit more complicated, as mother and baby can pass the infection back and forth to each other. An antifungal medication can be applied to the breasts and given to the baby to clear up the thrush. It is also important to wash pacifiers and toys which have contact with the mouth with vinegar to remove the fungus, and in children who bottlefeed or drink from a bottle occasionally, the bottles should be sterilized with boiling water and vinegar after use to reduce recurrence of thrush. People with dentures should also observe precautions during cleaning if they develop oral thrush.

Many of the treatments for thrush can be performed easily at home at low cost. People should not apply antifungal treatments for thrush without consulting a doctor, however, to confirm that they are using the right medication and the appropriate dosage. This is especially important when the patient is a young child or infant, as they can be extra sensitive to medications.

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