Thrush is a condition that can cause symptoms like vaginal discharge (often thick and white), soreness and itching around the vagina and pain during sex. Thrush treatment works to relieve these symptoms and clears up the infection within a few days.
- Complete a short medical questionnaire
- Highlight a preferred treatment
- Doctor reviews your answers and notes your preferred treatment
Important: If your preferred treatment is not clinically suitable, your doctor will offer an alternative or advise you on what to do next.
Thrush treatments available
- Canesten Cream
- Canesten Combi
- Canesten Duo
About thrush treatment
What is thrush?
Thrush is a fungal infection that is caused by the Candida species of fungus. This is normally Candida albicans. The fungus can grow in your throat, mouth, and other parts of your body.
Thrush can affect different areas of the body. Although it is not normally anything to worry about in most cases, it may be uncomfortable and unpleasant. Occasionally, if you keep getting thrush infections, it may also indicate that you have another medical issue.
Vaginal thrush is a common yeast infection that most women will get at some point.
Common symptoms of vaginal thrush include:
- vaginal discharge (usually odourless and may be thin and watery, or thick and white)
- soreness and itching around the entrance of the vagina
- pain during sex
- burning sensation when peeing
- cracked, swollen, or red skin around the vagina
Oral thrush is more common in babies and older people with dentures.
Typical symptoms of oral thrush include:
- white patches inside in the mouth
- not tasting things properly
- cracks at the corners of the mouth
- pain inside the mouth (like sore gums or a sore tongue)
- trouble drinking and eating
Thrush in men
In men, thrush usually affects the head of the penis. This can cause discharge, redness, and irritation.
Other symptoms of thrush in men include:
- a white discharge (like cottage cheese)
- difficulty pulling back the foreskin
- an unpleasant smell
If you are a man and believe you may have thrush, you can visit our male thrush treatment service for more information and treatment options.
How long does thrush last?
If you have thrush, symptoms should go away within 7 to 14 days of beginning treatment. You may need to continue taking treatment (up to 6 months) if you keep getting thrush, in which case you must speak to a doctor about the best treatment. Mild cases of thrush may go away on their own, but if left untreated, the infection can worsen. It is best to speak to your doctor or pharmacist for advice.
What causes thrush?
Thrush is caused by an overgrowth of fungus. However, some risk factors may put you at an increased risk of getting it. While thrush is not classed as an STI (sexually transmitted infection), it can be triggered by having sex.
Common causes of thrush
Certain risk factors can increase your chances of getting thrush.
You are more likely to get thrush if:
- your skin is damaged or irritated
- you are taking antibiotics
- you have a weakened immune system
- you are pregnant
- you are having HRT (hormone replacement therapy)
Why do I keep getting thrush?
If you get thrush four or more times in one year, this is known as recurring thrush. One study estimates that 138 million women across the world have recurrent thrush. There are several reasons why you may keep getting thrush. In some cases, the treatment you are given for thrush may not clear the whole infection up, causing it to return. This means it is important you finish the full course as instructed by your doctor or pharmacist.
There are things you can do to stop thrush from returning, such as:
- using water and emollient (like E45 cream) rather than soap to wash the affected area
- wearing cotton underwear
- drying properly after washing
- avoid tight fitting underwear or tights
Typical thrush symptoms in women include:
- irritation and itching around the vagina
- stinging and soreness when having sex or peeing
- white vaginal discharge (often like cottage cheese)
What does thrush look like?
If you have oral thrush, you may notice white patches or a white coating on the tongue, inner cheeks, mouth, or back of the throat. If you have vaginal thrush, you may see a thick, white vaginal discharge.
What does thrush feel like?
If you have oral thrush, you may notice soreness, burning, or redness in the mouth which could make eating or swallowing difficult. If you have vaginal thrush, common symptoms include burning, itching, and swelling of the vagina.
How long does thrush last?
How long thrush lasts will depend on where it is on your body, and when you seek treatment. Thrush should go away within 7 to 14 days of starting treatment.
Is thrush dangerous?
Although thrush is normally considered harmless, it can be uncomfortable and cause unpleasant symptoms. However, if you have recurrent episodes, you should consult a doctor to find out if there is another cause, for instance you have lower immunity or diabetes.
How to get rid of thrush
If you have thrush, you will need to take antifungal medicine to get rid of the infection. This may be a tablet you swallow, a tablet that is inserted into your vagina (pessary), or a cream that can relieve irritation.
How long does thrush treatment take to work?
Whatever kind of antifungal medicine you take to get rid of thrush, the infection should go away within 7 to 14 days.
How does thrush treatment work?
Thrush treatment works by killing the yeast that is causing the fungal infection. To stop thrush from returning, you should take the medicine for at least 2 weeks if advised by your doctor.
We offer Canesten 2% Cream which can be used to treat thrush in women, if the symptoms are on the skin of the vulva. The active ingredient of Canesten Cream is clotrimazole.
How does thrush cream work?
Thrush cream works by relieving irritation of the vulva that is caused by vaginal thrush. While the cream can provide relief from the outer irritation caused by vaginal thrush, it will not get rid of any internal cause of the infection.
How to apply thrush cream
If you have been prescribed Canesten Cream to treat vulval thrush, you must follow the instructions below:
- Pierce the tube seal before using. Do this by inverting the cap over the end of the tube and press.
- Apply the cream thinly and evenly to the area around the entrance of your vagina.
- Use the cream 2 or 3 times each day, and make sure it is smoothed in gently.
- You should continue treatment for two weeks.
We offer Canesten Duo, which is a tablet that contains fluconazole, alongside cream.
How do thrush tablets work?
Canesten Duo is a thrush treatment that contains an oral tablet and external cream. The oral tablet contains the active ingredient fluconazole that works from within to get rid of the infection. The active ingredient of the external cream is clotrimazole that helps to calm the itch.
We offer Canesten Combi, which is a pessary (tablet you insert into the vagina), and a cream to get rid of vaginal thrush.
How does a pessary work for thrush?
The pessary is inserted into the vagina which allows the active ingredient clotrimazole to act directly on the area of infection.
How to insert a pessary for thrush
Unless instructed otherwise by your doctor or pharmacist, you should insert the pessary as high as comfortably possible into your vagina. It is advised to do this before going to sleep.
You must wash your hands before taking off the foil from the blister pack, and again once you have used the applicator.
- Take out the applicator from the packaging and pull out the plunger A until it has stopped. Take off the pessary from the foil blister pack and firmly place into the applicator B.
- Tightly squeeze the holder of the applicator at both sides to fit the pessary in. The pessary should fit tightly into the applicator and must be squeezed into the holder to roughly 1cm.
- Gently put the applicator as deep as is comfortable into the vagina. This is easiest when laying on your back with your knees bent up.
- Hold the applicator in place, press the plunger slowly until it has stopped. This is to ensure the pessary is deposited into the vagina.
- Pull out the applicator and dispose of it in a safe place. You should not flush the applicator down the toilet.
As the pessary dissolves into the vagina, you may benefit from wearing a panty liner. This is because it is quite common to notice a white, chalky residue once you have used the pessary.
How else is thrush treated?
While there are several over the counter products you can take to treat thrush, there are prescription treatments like itraconazole you can take to get rid of thrush.
Other prescription medicines available to treat thrush include:
Where can I get thrush treatment?
There are several places you can get thrush treatment, such as from your local pharmacy, or online at Superdrug Online Doctor.
Can I get thrush treatment online?
Yes. You can order thrush treatment online through trusted sellers like Superdrug Online Doctor.
The process is straightforward and can be completed following the below steps:
- Fill out a brief online assessment about things like your lifestyle and health.
- Place an order for your treatment.
- One of our doctors will review your assessment answers and decide if your order is right for your needs.
- If your order is suitable for you, it can be posted directly to your preferred address. You can collect your thrush treatment from a Superdrug store if you wish.
Can I get thrush treatment over the counter?
Yes. The treatments we sell are available without a prescription. You will need to complete an assessment in person with a pharmacist before you can get it. The pharmacist will ask similar questions to our convenient online assessment.
Can I get thrush treatment on the NHS?
You can see your GP or a sexual health clinic about thrush. They may be able to give you treatment on the NHS, or they may suggest you buy it yourself, for example from a pharmacy.
Thrush treatment side effects
Antifungal medicine like clotrimazole can come with side effects when treating thrush. Whether you use an external cream, an internal cream, or a pessary, it is good to be aware of common side effects.
Possible side effects from the external cream include:
- burning, pain, or stinging sensation
- red, irritated skin
Possible side effects from the pessary or internal cream include:
- pain, stinging or burning once you have put the pessary in
- lower stomach pain
- bleeding from the vagina
- swelling or discomfort in or around the vagina
In rare instances, clotrimazole can cause a serious allergic reaction (anaphylaxis). If you get tightness in the throat or chest or have trouble breathing, you must visit A&E immediately. Do not delay in seeking treatment.
How to prevent thrush
Once you have got rid of thrush, there are certain things you can do to prevent it from coming back.
This can include:
- avoiding using shower gels or soaps to wash your genitals
- not using deodorants on your genitals
- not wearing tight underwear or tights
Canesten Combi Pessary & External Cream 500mg / 2% w/w pessary (September 2018) EMC (Accessed 3 October 2021)
Canesten Thrush External Cream 2% w/w cream – Patient Information Leaflet (PIL) (April 2019) EMC (Accessed 3 October 2021)
Clotrimazole for thrush (October 2019) NHS (Accessed 3 October 2021)
New figures show 138 million women suffer from recurrent thrush (August 2018) The University of Manchester (Accessed 3 October 2021)
Oral thrush (mouth thrush) (July 2020) NHS (Accessed 3 October 2021)
Thrush in men and women (October 2020) NHS (Accessed 3 October 2021)
Vaginal thrush (October 2021) NHS Sexual Health Wirral (Accessed 3 October 2021)
Vaginal thrush symptoms & treatments (December 2020) NHS Inform (Accessed 3 October 2021)