How Oral Thrush Is Treated

Oral thrush is a yeast infection of the mouth that can affect babies, children, and adults. It can be mild and often improves if you keep your mouth clean. Home remedies can help ease symptoms in the meantime.

Thrush can be treated with prescription antifungal lozenges or mouthwashes if it doesn't resolve after consuming beverages, eating active-culture yogurt, or taking probiotic pills.

If these treatments aren't effective, healthcare providers can prescribe other antifungal drugs.

This article explains how home remedies can ease the itching and burning that often comes with thrush. More serious cases may require an over-the-counter or prescription medication.

Home remedies for thrush
Verywell / Nusha Ashjaee

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.

Some home remedies that provide relief from itching and burning can be as pleasing for adults as well as children: popsicles, ice cream, chilled soups, smoothies, and crushed-ice beverages.  

You can also use warm salt water rinses for relief. You can make one by mixing 1/2 teaspoon of salt in 1 cup of warm water. Be sure kids spit the rinse out when they're done.

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.

Use a soft toothbrush and 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.

Yogurt with active cultures contains lactobacilli (probiotic bacteria) that can edge out yeast in your mouth. Consult your pediatrician to discuss whether you should give it to a baby or small child.

Recap

Popsicles, ice cream, chilled soups, and smoothies can ease the itching and burning of thrush. A traditional salt water rinse could help, too.

Over-the-Counter Therapies

Over-the-counter probiotic pills and drinks with acidophilus and lactobacilli 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.

Prescriptions

In determining how to treat your thrush or your child's thrush, your healthcare provider will consider age, health conditions, the severity of the infection, and whether the infection is likely to spread rapidly. 

The most common medications for treating oral thrush include:

Mycelex (clotrimazole)

This 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. It is used up to four times per day and continued until two days have passed without the symptoms of the infection.

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)

This 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 Diflucan include headaches, nausea, and dizziness, but they are generally mild. In some cases, Diflucan may be prescribed to prevent thrush during cancer treatment. The generic option, fluconazole, is also available.

Other Options

If these prescription drugs are not effective, or there is a risk of a systemic fungal infection, your healthcare provider may use a new class of antifungal medications called echinocandins. These include itraconazole, posaconazole, voriconazole, and amphotericin B, which are given intravenously (IV, meaning in a vein).

For symptom relief, a healthcare provider may prescribe a mouthwash that is a combination of several medications. It is referred to as 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.

Recap

If your case is mild to moderate, expect to use an antifungal lozenge, mouthwash, or liquid. More serious cases may requires an oral or IV antifungal medication. 

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.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Will oral thrush go away on its own?

    Yes, mild cases of oral thrush occasionally disappear on their own. However, it's crucial to consult your pediatrician if your infant has thrush. It can be transferred between infants and mothers.

  • How can you get rid of oral thrush quickly?

    Keeping your mouth clean by brushing your teeth twice a day will help clear symptoms of thrush. Using a mouth rinse made of lemon juice, baking soda, and apple cider vinegar has been shown to help resolve it. Prescription medications may be needed for severe cases.

Thrush Doctor Discussion Guide

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12 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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