Thrush, also known as candidiasis, is a yeast infection that occurs most commonly in the mouth. It is caused by a fungus called Candida albicans (“candida”) that occurs naturally in the intestines, vagina and even the skin. The bacteria that reside in the body’s moist environments usually keep candida under control.Candida is often called an “opportunistic” microorganism. This means that it doesn’t ordinarily cause disease, but under special conditions, such as a weakened immune system, it becomes pathogenic—capable of causing disease.
Common Oral Thrush Symptoms. Thrush symptoms most often appear in the mouth and sometimes in the throat. Candidiasis causes often painful, slightly raised ulcers or skin lesions that usually look creamy white. Curd-like, bumpy white “cottage cheese” in the mouth and a dry mouth are common oral thrush symptoms.
Candidiasis in the mouth may spread to the esophagus, making swallowing painful or difficult.
Mucocutaneous Thrush Symptoms. Candida albicans thrives in moist environments such as folds of damp skin and the mucous membranes. Skin thrush symptoms typically include red itchy patches of skin, redness around the fingernails or toenails and in some cases, hair loss.
Vaginal Thrush: Symptoms of a Yeast Infection. Most women experience vaginal thrush symptoms at least once in their lives, and some women have a chronic version that recurs frequently. Vaginal thrush symptoms include itching and burning sensations in the vagina and vulva, particularly when urinating. Thrush may also cause soreness and swelling. Symptoms are accompanied by a thick white or clear discharge that has a distinctive yeasty odor.
Baby Thrush Symptoms.
Babies often have oral thrush symptoms, and when they’re nursing, they’re likely to infect the mother’s nipples. Baby thrush looks like white patches in the mouth. Symptoms in the mother include cracked or dry-looking nipples. Baby thrush may also manifest as diaper rash that might look like a burn. Symptoms vary in severity.
Men and Thrush Symptoms. Men who get thrush tend to assume it was sexually transmitted, but men who aren’t sexually active also develop it. Symptoms appear as itching and soreness of the head of the penis. Men with foreskin are particularly prone to develop thrush symptoms that are similar to the yeasty vaginal discharge experienced by women.
Systemic Thrush Symptoms. Systemic candidiasis, although extremely rare in healthy people, can be life-threatening. Symptoms vary from fever and headaches to pneumonia and inflammation of the endocardium, the membrane that lines the interior of the heart. Most people who suffer from the systemic form of candidiasis have underlying defects in their immune system.