How do you treat thrush? Is it contagious?

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These messages are for mutual support and information sharing only. Always consult your doctor before trying anything you read here.

The goal of any oral thrush treatment is to stop the rapid spread of the fungus, but the best approach may depend on your age, your overall health and the cause of the infection. Eliminating underlying causes, when possible, can prevent recurrence.

Healthy adults and children. Your doctor may recommend antifungal medication. This comes in several forms, including lozenges, tablets, or a liquid that you swish in your mouth and then swallow. If these topical medications are not effective, medication may be given that works throughout your body.

Infants and nursing mothers. If you're breast-feeding and your infant has oral thrush, you and your baby could pass the infection back and forth. Your doctor may prescribe a mild antifungal medication for your baby and an antifungal cream for your breasts.

Adults with weakened immune systems. Most often your doctor will recommend antifungal medication.

Thrush may return even after it's been treated if the underlying cause, such as poorly disinfected dentures or inhaled steroid use, isn't addressed.

Oral thrush, a fungal infection, is not considered contagious. The causative fungus, Candida albicans, is often already a natural inhabitant of the mouth and throat. When the oral environment changes (usually due to an immature or depressed immune system), the fungus can multiply and cause symptoms. Occasionally, individuals taking antibiotics or steroids (such as prednisone) can develop thrush. Although thrush is usually considered not to be contagious, one instance where the fungus can be passed back and forth is between infant and mother. An infant may develop thrush and transfer it to the mother's nipples, which become painful with reddish, cracking skin. Conversely, mothers may develop a Candida albicans yeast infection on their nipples while taking antibiotics or steroids and transfer the infection to their babies while breastfeeding. 

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