Thrush is an infectious disease of the skin and mucous membranes that is triggered by the candida fungus. It is a special form of candidosis. The most common types of thrush are oral thrush and the diaper rash common in babies, but thrush can also occur in skin folds or in the genital area. In the following, we will introduce you to the different forms of fungal infection and explain how to recognize and treat the symptoms of thrush.
Candidosis and Thrush - Definition
Thrush is a subspecies of candidosis (also candidiasis or candidiasis). Candidosis is a collective name for various infectious diseases due to excessive proliferation of Candida fungi.
These fungi can spread through the blood throughout the body and affect the organs. This is called a systemic candidosis. This can cause life-threatening sepsis.
If the candidosis is locally limited to the skin or mucous membranes, this is called thrush. Other names are local candidiasis or mucocutaneous candidiasis. Earlier Thrush was also called Moniliasis.
Candida: Yeast fungus as a cause
Candida - the fungus that causes candidosis or thrush - is a genus of yeasts. There are about 150 different Candida species that can be the cause of serious fungal infections (mycoses). The most common trigger of thrush is the subspecies Candida albicans.
Depending on their species, candida fungi also occur in the majority of healthy people and in the body. Often the fungi superficially settle on skin and mucous membranes, in the mouth and throat, or in the colon, as well as on the external genitals.
As a rule, the infectious fungi are a natural component of the skin, oral and intestinal flora. They cause no discomfort as long as their multiplication is limited by the balance of other microorganisms and the immune system. Problems arise only when the mushrooms multiply excessively or break through the natural barriers of the skin and mucous membranes. This often results in thrush infections or systemic candidosis.
Fungal infection with many faces
Thrush can affect various parts of the body. The most common areas affected by the fungal disease are:
- Mouth and throat (oral thrush)
- Skin in diaper area in diaper-bearing babies and adults (Windelsoor, also known as diaper fungus)
- Genital mucosa (vaginal fungal infection or infection of the glans or foreskin)
- moist folds of the body or skin, for example between the toes or fingers, in the groin or in the anal area (intertriginous candidosis)
- Nail folds (fingernails and toenails)
- Nipples (breastsush)
- Esophagus (thrush esophagitis)
Thrush is typically localized. However, a transition to other body regions is possible. For example, oral thrush can spread untreated to the pharynx, esophagus or gastrointestinal tract.
An infection of the blood and serious consequences such as pneumonia or meningitis are possible. Therefore thrush should always be treated by a doctor.
Risk Factors: Common Throttle Triggers
Thrush usually develops only when the body's natural defense mechanisms fail and the fungi can spread unhindered. Typical risk factors that favor the formation of thrush include:
- taking medications such as antibiotics or cortisone
- nutrient deficiency
- Changes in the skin or mucous membrane, which facilitate the penetration of the fungus, for example, wounds, lack of ventilation of the skin by bandages or a change in pH
- a weakened immune system, for example due to infections, diseases such as diabetes mellitus, HIV or cancer, or as a result of chemotherapy
- Even children and old people often have a weak immune system
- Missing teeth, poorly fitting dentures, smoking or a dry mouth may favor oral thrush
- Thrush on the skin is common in people who have wet skin for work (such as cleaners) or in the skin folds of overweight people
- Babies and newborns often suffer from oral thrush or diaper thrush. The latter is created by wearing diapers, under which the fungus finds an ideal humid climate
- During breastfeeding mother and child often poke each other. The nipples of the mother often become ill as a result of moisture under the nursing pads or oral thrush of the baby
Depending on the affected body region, thrush causes various symptoms. The following signs are typical for the fungal infection of the skin and mucous membranes:
- Oral thrush: white, easily removable deposits as well as a reddened mucous membrane in the oral cavity, on the tongue or in the throat. Depending on the shape of the pads can also be stuck or missing. Here you will find details on the symptoms of oral thrush.
- Hautsoor (usually in skin folds, for example, under the breasts, in the armpits or in the groin area): strong redness, dandruff, pustules, itching, sometimes a burning sensation and pain
- Thrush on nails and fingernails: redness, swelling and pain on touch
- Vaginalsoor (often favored by high estrogen levels in pregnancy): Itching, burning, redness and swelling of the mucous membrane, whitish coating, sometimes crumbly white discharge
- Thrush on the glans (thrush balanitis) or on the foreskin (thrush balanoposthitis): burning, itching, inflammation of the glans or foreskin, pustules and small blisters
- Thrush on the chest: pink, sometimes shiny, sore nipples, itching, burning, pain, swelling, dry and flaky skin, some with white coverings or blisters
- Windelsoor: red, white bordered pustules, dandruff, reddened, inflamed skin in the diaper area, sometimes in the area of the thighs, abdomen or back, often in connection with diaper dermatitis
Smear allows diagnosis
The diagnosis of thrush can - in the nature of the thrush - in some cases already be based on the symptoms. Usually, the doctor also asks about pre-existing conditions and asks whether medications are taken or other risk factors.
The microscopic examination of a smear or also of samples of affected skin or mucous membrane is the most common method for the detection of thrush and can usually ensure the diagnosis quickly. This is often necessary, especially in adults, to rule out other conditions with similar symptoms.
If there are no symptoms, a positive test for Candida fungi is not considered as evidence of thrush or candidiasis, as the yeast fungus also occurs in many healthy people.
Other methods for the detection of thrush
Optionally, further imaging procedures, such as a gastroscopy in a soorbeal case of the esophagus, may be necessary to unambiguously diagnose thrush, such as to take a tissue sample. By means of a blood test, antibodies against the candida fungus can also be detected. However, this process is controversial and usually not required.
With the help of fungal cultures, the exact nature of the yeast can be determined if necessary. This is of particular interest if a drug administered does not work and there is a suspicion of resistance to the fungus.
What helps with a thrush infection?
The treatment of the various forms of thrush is done using locally applied antimycotics, ie antifungals. Commonly used drugs include, for example, nystatin, amphotericin B, clotrimazole, fluconazole and itraconazole. If the medication is used as prescribed over the recommended duration of therapy, the thrush can usually be controlled quickly and easily - thrush is considered to be good curable.
Depending on the affected area of the body, various preparations against thrush are available, for example as:
- Cream or ointment
- nail polish
Homeopathic remedies and home remedies can be used in support of the doctor. However, it is strongly advised not to use Thrush exclusively with homeopathy or home remedies.
Thrush often returns
When treating thrush, it is important to follow the doctor's instructions and use the antifungal for the prescribed duration. Premature discontinuation of therapy can otherwise quickly lead to a relapse or spread of the fungal disease.
In order to prevent the thrush from recurring, the cause should always be remedied if possible, so that, for example, the triggering underlying disease should be treated. If no obvious risk factors are identified, it is important to clarify the causes of the outbreak of thrush infection. Often thrush is the first sign of a weakened immune system due to a hitherto unnoticed condition, such as diabetes or HIV.
Complementary treatment measures
The treatment of thrush should always be supplemented with appropriate hygiene measures to prevent the spread of the infection. In general, the thrush infection should not be touched with bare hands to prevent a smear infection.
The additional supplementary measures depend on the type of thrush disorder:
- After contact of candida mushrooms to garments, towels or bed linen, the laundry should be washed at a minimum of 60 ° C or with appropriate hygiene rinse.
- In thrush in skin folds, it is important to provide adequate ventilation of the affected areas. To keep the skin dry here, for example, gauze strips can be placed in the skin folds.
- Oral hygiene products such as toothbrushes should be replaced - the same applies to pacifiers or teats. For dental prostheses or braces, a thorough cleaning is recommended.
- Care should be taken with diaper sels to keep the nappy area clean, dry and ventilated regularly. Always fresh changing pads are needed so as not to delay the fungal infection.
Often thrushes are advised to a low-carbohydrate and low-sugar diet, as the candida fungus feeds on sugar. The effectiveness of this anti-fungal diet, however, is controversial.
Infection with candida fungi
Candida fungi can be easily transferred to other parts of the body or from one person to another. Keep the following tips in mind to prevent infection of others:
- If there is a thrush in the genital area, the use of condoms is recommended because the disease can be transmitted via sexual intercourse.
- Oral thrush in babies often leads to nipple infestation in nursing mothers and vice versa. Therefore, the treatment should usually include mother and child and abstain from breastfeeding for the duration of the attack.
- Candida fungi often settle in the mouth and are then transmitted through the saliva. Kissing or drinking together from a glass can be enough for a contagion.
- Candida fungi can also be transmitted via the hands - for example from the parents to their newborn. Therefore, good hand hygiene when dealing with babies is particularly important.
Prevention of thrush
Candida fungi, the cause of thrush, are also common in healthy people, but only lead to a weakening of the immune system to complaints. Therefore, thrush can only partially prevent. Strengthening the immune system through a healthy lifestyle and a balanced diet, hygiene - especially in the genital area - as well as the use of condoms can help to prevent infection with the mushrooms.
People whose immune system is weakened, for example due to illness or long-term use of medication, should be particularly sensitized to the risk of thrush infection and should pay close attention to possible signs.
Prevent diaper thrush and oral thrush in babies
In order to prevent thrush in babies, it is advisable to exclude a vaginal fungus from the mother before birth, since the child could otherwise be infected at birth with the candida fungi. But even later, the child can, for example, over the saliva or the hands of the parents infected.
For the prevention of oral thrush parents should pay particular attention to the hygiene of pacifiers, teething rings and suckers. Mothers giving breasts to their children should also prevent inflamed nipples, for example by changing their nursing pads frequently. Excessive or infrequent bathing of the baby, as well as infrequent diaper changes, can unbalance the child's skin milieu, favoring diaper selsoor.