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What Does Oral Thrush Feel Like In Adults & Is It An STD?

Oral candidiasis or thrush is a disease that can develop from babies to adults. Candida fungus is usually present in everyone’s mouth but rarely develops into a thrush under normal conditions.(1)

What Does Oral Thrush Feel Like In Adults?

Thrush is associated with milky white lesions on the tongue, cheeks, and sometimes even over the mouth, gums, and tonsils. The lesions are slightly raised and look like cheese. It may be redness, burning, or soreness enough to cause difficulty eating or swallowing.(4)

Oral thrush is a type of opportunistic infection. Candida microorganism usually exists in the mouth of every person, but they develop when candida grows abnormally due to reduced immunity.

Oral thrush produces painless white spots, like milk scum, in the mouth, especially around the tongue, palate, and lips. These spots can come off when eating or brushing your teeth.

Scraping off the whitish surface of the spots reveals red and inflamed areas, which may have slight bleeding. Also, the corners of the mouth may be cracked, red, and painful.

Moreover, it may cause a raised wound on the mouth, which may appear creamy and yellowish.(2)

Smell: Candida itself does not smell, but if the mouth is wounded by inflammation due to Candida, bacterial infections can occur there. Bacterial infections can produce pus in severe cases, causing bad breath. Also, the characteristic symptom of Candida, such as white scum in the mouth, can cause food debris to stick and become rotten, which can cause bad breath.

Is Oral Thrush Transmitted?

Candida is an indigenous microflora in humans and lurks everywhere in the body, but the presence of Candida in the mouth does not necessarily lead to oral thrush. Candidiasis develops when Candida loses its resistance from the body, such as when its immunity is weakened and starts abnormally proliferating.

However, oral Candida can be transmitted from humans. The most common is during kisses with oral Candida and oral sex with genital Candida. Infants and children can also be infected by the presence of Candida on the mouth of baby bottles and toys.

Since infants have weak body resistance, thrush is likely to occur when Candida enters the body, but in adults, it rarely develops if immunity works normally. However, it can also occur if your immunity is weakened due to illness or tiredness. In addition to preventing infection, it is important to maintain your body’s resilience so that you can get well and not develop Candida.(5)

How To Treat Oral Thrush?

If you think you may have oral thrush, it is important to consult your doctor first. If left untreated, the symptoms remain, and if the discomfort continues or if the symptoms progress, pneumonia may develop. If you notice a suspicious condition with Candida, consult a hospital as soon as possible.

Oral thrush is treated with antifungal drugs. Gel or liquid oral antifungals are applied directly to the affected area of the mouth several times a day for 1-2 weeks. However, in some cases, antibiotics are the cause, in which case you have to stop using antibiotics.

For newborns, the possibility of spontaneous healing is usually high, so follow-up is often the case, but if persisted for longer periods, examination and treatment may be necessary.(6)

Is Oral Thrush STD?

Thrush can be transmitted during sex, but it is not a sexually transmitted infection. Nevertheless, thrush therapy could be required to avoid infection recurrence for sexual partners irrespective of gender. You can help prevent thrush by cleaning the penis regularly and using a condom if you have thrush while having sex with your partner.

Cause Of Oral Thrush

Common causes of oral thrush include the following:

  • Use of inhaled steroids to treat asthma and are not gargling
  • Neglecting oral care, dirty mouth
  • Dentures do not fit properly (thrush grows easily under dentures)
  • If you have a collagen disease such as rheumatoid arthritis
  • Have diabetes
  • Have dry mouth due to illness or smoking
  • Have reduced immunity because of receiving chemotherapy or radiation therapy as part of cancer treatment

Newborns are more likely to develop if the baby bottle or mother’s nipples are not clean, or if the mother has a vulvar or vaginal thrush infection.(3)


  1. Taylor M, Raja A. Oral Candidiasis (Thrush). StatPearls [Internet]: StatPearls Publishing; 2019.
  2. Porter S, Mercadante V, Fedele S. Oral manifestations of systemic disease. British dental journal. 2017;223(9):683.
  3. Giardino G, Cirillo E, Gallo V, Pignata C. Oral Thrush and Onychomycosis. Pediatric Immunology: Springer; 2019:371-376.
  4. Rahmani F, Rezaei N. Refractory Oral Thrush. Pediatric Immunology: Springer; 2019:383-385.
  5. Campos PL, Barrera JSM, Smith CT, Cancino AG. Candida sp. as a Potential Reservoir and Transmission Facilitator of Helicobacter pylori. Helicobacter. 2018;21(1):45-48.
  6. Vila T, Sultan AS, Montelongo-Jauregui D, Jabra-Rizk MA. Oral Candidiasis: A Disease of Opportunity. Journal of Fungi. 2020;6(1):15.

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Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:May 1, 2020

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