June 19, 2024

Vita Nectar

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Treatment for Oral Thrush in Adults and Children

6 min read

Treatment for oral thrush in adults as well as children often begins with simple home remedies. Home remedies can ease the itching and burning caused by mild cases of thrush. Keeping your mouth clean can also help treat this common yeast infection.

Oral thrush, also known as oral candidiasis, may go away with simple steps such as eating active-culture yogurt or taking probiotic pills. Oral thrush that persists can be treated with prescription antifungal lozenges and mouthwashes. Your healthcare provider may also prescribe other antifungal drugs, if necessary.

This article explains how home remedies can help oral thrush and lists a number of remedies to try. It also discusses when to see a provider for more serious cases and over-the-counter and prescription medications that can help.

Verywell / Nusha Ashjaee

Oral Thrush Home Remedies

The classic signs of thrush—a white coating on the inside of the mouth, pain while eating, and loss of taste—usually disappear on their own. Even thrush in babies will often go away after a week or two. However, you should always consult your pediatrician if your infant has thrush since it can be transferred between infants and mothers.

Cold Food and Drink

Some foods and beverages that provide relief from itching and burning can be soothing to adults as well as children. These include:

  • Popsicles
  • Ice cream
  • Chilled soups
  • Smoothies
  • Crushed-ice beverages 

Salt Water Rinses

Warm salt water rinses may help provide relief. Try mixing 1/2 teaspoon of salt in 1 cup of warm water. Be sure kids spit the rinse out when they’re done.

Good Oral Hygiene

Keeping your mouth clean is a crucial part of treating thrush. Rinse your mouth with water after you eat and after taking medications, unless the medications are meant to coat your mouth to battle the yeast.

Using a soft toothbrush, brush your teeth, gums, and tongue twice a day. Keep your dentures clean and disinfect them daily. Avoid alcohol-based mouthwashes; they may make a burning sensation worse.

Oral Thrush and Dentures

People who wear dentures are at an increased risk of developing oral thrush. Dentures are a common cause of oral thrush in adults, made worse by poor denture cleanliness and oral hygiene practices. If you use dentures, be sure to wear and clean them as directed.

Yogurt

Yogurt with active cultures contains Lactobacillus acidophilus (probiotic bacteria) that can overtake yeast in your mouth. Consult your pediatrician to discuss whether you should give this to a baby or small child.

Baking Soda

Baking soda may help stop or slow the growth of Candida, the microorganism that causes oral thrush.

Try dissolving 1/2 tsp of baking soda in an 8-ounce glass of warm water. Swish the solution around in your mouth, then spit it out. 

Over-the-Counter Therapies

Over-the-counter probiotic pills and drinks with Lactobacillus acidophilus can help restore friendly bacteria to the mouth and digestive tract.

These options can be appropriate in mild cases of thrush that develop after you’ve used antibiotics. As a bonus, they help restore the bacteria in your intestinal tract, which is often necessary after antibiotic treatment.

What is the best over-the-counter mouthwash for thrush?

Several over-the-counter mouthwashes are available to help treat thrush. Look for one that contains hydrogen peroxide, such as Colgate Peroxyl. 

Hydrogen peroxide can help treat oral thrush, but it can also kill helpful bacteria in your mouth, so discontinue using it once your symptoms have resolved.

Prescriptions

Your healthcare provider will consider age, health conditions, the severity of the infection, and whether the infection is likely to spread rapidly when deciding how to treat thrush. 

The most common medications for treating oral thrush include the following.

Mycelex (clotrimazole)

Clotrimazole is a topical drug that is prescribed as a lozenge. The medicine is delivered as the lozenge slowly dissolves in the mouth over 20 to 30 minutes. It usually is taken five times a day. It is not recommended for children under age 3.

Mycostatin (nystatin)

Nystatin is also commonly prescribed in a lozenge or liquid mouthwash form. For newborns and infants, it is applied with a cotton swab or finger. The medication needs to be applied directly to the yeast. It is given up to four times per day for people in all age groups.

With liquid nystatin, you swish and swallow the medication. For infants, you can use a sterile gauze pad to rub the medication onto the white patches that have active yeast. Some people report that nystatin tastes bitter or acidic, so ask your pharmacist to add a flavoring like peppermint to make it more palatable.

Miconazole

While nystatin is preferred for younger infants, Miconazole gel (applied to the affected areas) may be used for babies older than 4 months.

Miconazole also appears to be more effective than nystatin as a treatment for oral thrush in adults, although results are about the same for miconazole and other antifungals used in people living with HIV.

Oravig, a miconazole tablet, is available for those ages 16 and up. It is placed on the gum above the canine tooth in the morning and slowly dissolves throughout the day.

Diflucan (fluconazole)

Fluconazole is a stronger treatment for oral thrush and is usually used as a second-line treatment when nystatin is not effective. For people who are undergoing chemotherapy, it is most often prescribed in a tablet form that is taken once daily.

Common side effects of fluconazole include headaches, nausea, and dizziness, but they are generally mild. In some cases, fluconazole may be prescribed to prevent thrush during cancer treatment.

Other Options

If these prescription drugs are not effective, or there is a risk of a systemic fungal infection, your healthcare provider may use other antifungal medications, including azoles and echinocandins. These drugs are given intravenously (IV, meaning in a vein) and include:

  • Itraconazole
  • Posaconazole
  • Voriconazole
  • Amphotericin B

For symptom relief, a healthcare provider may prescribe a mouthwash that is a combination of several medications. This is sometimes called a magic mouthwash and is often prescribed for thrush that develops during chemotherapy.

Several different formulas are available, and it’s up to the healthcare provider to decide which drugs to include and at what dosage.

Never attempt to mix medications yourself at home. Leave this work to a pharmacist.

Thrush Medication and Drug Resistance

At times, oral thrush in adults can be serious, and stronger antifungal medications may be needed to treat more complicated cases. However, researchers are finding that certain Candida strains that cause these yeast infections, especially in immunocompromised people, are developing resistance to these drugs.

Summary

Oral thrush is a yeast infection that leaves a white coating in the mouth. Popsicles and cold beverages can help with symptoms, and probiotics may help fight the yeast.

If thrush doesn’t respond to some home remedies, a healthcare provider may prescribe other medications, such as antifungals. In the meantime, it’s crucial to keep your mouth clean by brushing your teeth, gums, and tongue twice a day.

Thrush Doctor Discussion Guide

Get our printable guide for your next doctor’s appointment to help you ask the right questions.

Doctor Discussion Guide Mom and Baby

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