Thrush is a very common yeast infection that can affect the genitals and other areas of the body. In this Pharmacy Prime guide, we will be answering commonly asked questions about the condition such as what is thrush and what causes thrush, as well as providing our best recommendations of the medications available to help get rid of thrush.

An introduction to thrush

This guide will detail everything you need to know about thrush. Whether you have thrush or are looking to learn more about the condition, this guide covers all the essential information. This guide includes information about the condition, its causes, how to treat it, and the following topics:

  • What is thrush?
  • Thrush symptoms
  • What causes thrush?
  • What effects can thrush have?
  • How to relieve thrush
  • Dos and don’ts and thrush treatments

What is thrush?

Thrush is a common yeast infection that can affect many areas of the body, commonly affecting the genitals. It is recognisable as a creamy white or yellow coating or patches. It is usually a harmless condition and subsides shortly after treatment.

Thrush symptoms

Thrush can occur in a variety of different parts of the body, but most commonly occurs within the genitals.

Symptoms of thrush in women include:

  • Itching and irritation around the vagina
  • Stinging or soreness when urinating or during sex
  • White vaginal discharge, similar in appearance to cottage cheese

Symptoms of thrush in men include:

  • Irritation, redness and burning under the foreskin and around the head of the penis
  • A white discharge, similar in look to cottage cheese
  • Difficulty retracting the foreskin
  • An unpleasant smell

When to see a doctor

Thrush typically subsides shortly after treatment and is typically harmless. However, the NHS advises you to see a doctor if:

  • You are experiencing the effects of thrush for the first time
  • Self-treating thrush has not worked
  • You are experiencing thrush and are breastfeeding or pregnant
  • You have thrush and are aged under 16 or over 60
  • Thrush regularly returns (more than four times in twelve months)
  • You have a weakened immune system

Thrush is more likely to develop in certain individuals. Therefore, thrush that continually recurs after treatment could be a sign of another underlying health condition, such as HIV or diabetes. If you have symptoms of these conditions, you should speak to your doctor for a diagnosis.

What causes thrush?

Thrush is caused by an overgrowth of bacteria, usually Candida albicans. This bacteria can often be found in the body without causing any harm, though a disruption in the usual regulation of bacteria can cause thrush to develop.

Thrush can be caused for many different reasons. Some have the misconception that thrush is an STI. While it is possible to be transmitted sexually, it is not considered an STI as there are lots of reasons why thrush can occur across many different areas of the body. Possible causes for thrush include:

  • Having irritated or damaged skin
  • Taking antibiotics
  • Being pregnant
  • HIV
  • Poorly managed diabetes
  • Undergoing hormone replacement therapy (HRT)
  • Stress
  • Transferred through sexual activity

This is not an exhaustive list of all the reasons why thrush could occur. If your thrush symptoms are causing you concern, you should see your GP for a diagnosis and advice.

What effects can thrush have?

Thrush is generally harmless, at most causing some mild discomfort or pain. However, there is a risk of developing complications from thrush if you have a weakened immune system. This can lead to the fungus spreading around the body and potentially causing septic shock.

Often, thrush is easily treated. We have put together our tips on how to get rid of thrush below.

How to get rid of thrush

Thrush is able to be treated with antifungal treatments, which we detail further below. After using treatment, thrush generally should subside within one to two weeks. If thrush persists after treatment, contact your GP as they will be able to best advise you on your specific circumstances.

Below are some dos and don’ts to prevent thrush from occurring in the future and ease the discomfort you may experience:

Dos and don’ts


  • Clean the affected area with emollient - Using an emollient and water to clean the affected area can help ease discomfort in the area.
  • Wear cotton underwear - Cotton underwear is breathable and absorbent, which prevents creating the conditions for thrush to thrive. Additionally, cotton underwear can be comfortable for those experiencing thrush.
  • Avoid sex if uncomfortable - Thrush can sometimes make sex uncomfortable, so avoid it if this is the case.
  • Dry yourself fully after washing - Bacteria thrive in moist conditions, so you should dry yourself completely after you wash to prevent thrush from occurring.


  • Don’t use shower gel or soap on the area - Using soap or shower gel on thrush can affect the pH balance of the area, meaning that thrush can be more likely to develop.

  • Don’t use deodorants or douches - Similar to shower gel and soap, douches and deodorants can also affect pH balance, so avoid using these around the area.

  • Don’t wear tight clothing - Tight clothing such as certain underwear, tights, or jeans can cause discomfort with thrush.

Thrush treatments

Thrush can be treated effectively with medication and normally subsides within one or two weeks afterwards. However, you should first speak to your doctor or pharmacist if you have any health conditions that could be affected by taking this medication. 

You can find many treatments for thrush within our women’s health products. Below are just a few examples of the treatments we have:

Useful links

Contact us

We hope this guide on thrush has helped you to better understand the condition and has provided you with some insightful tips on how to treat it. If you would like to know more about the different thrush treatments we provide at Pharmacy Prime or have any other enquiries relating to our products, please get in touch with us. A member of our friendly team will soon be in touch with you.