Is thrush contagious? Thrush is an overgrowth of fungus (Candida albicans) in the mouth, presenting as a white coating or yellow coating of raised and bumpy oral lesions. It typically covers the tongue, but it can also affect the tonsils, gums, or the back of the throat.
Candida is already in the mouth, on the skin, and in the digestive tract of healthy people, and the immune system usually keeps it in check, but when the balance of the yeast in the body is off-kilter, the thrush can multiply and develop into oral thrush.
Thrush is not the same thing as a vaginal yeast infection, though both are a form of Candida, and is not very common, though it’s more likely to occur in people with AIDS and cancer, and in about five to seven percent of babies.
Other risk factors for potentially getting thrush include smoking, pregnancy, dry mouth, certain medications like antibiotics, chemotherapy and radiation, and birth control pills.
Is Thrush Contagious Through Kissing?
The oral form of thrush is generally not contagious because the fungus that causes thrush already resides in the mouth and throat; it isn’t as though a new fungus, bacteria or virus is attacking your body. It’s only when the environment in the mouth and throat changes that fungus can multiply and cause thrush.
Thrush in infants is relatively common and is no cause for concern, unless it starts interfering with the child’s eating habits or if they keep losing weight. Is thrush contagious in babies? The short answer is yes, in a way—babies have underdeveloped immune systems and are more susceptible, and they can get thrush if their mothers have a vaginal yeast infection while giving birth. But it can also go the other way, being transferred from the baby to the mother via the nipple when the baby is nursing, resulting in nipple thrush.
Thrush can be passed on through kissing, but it all depends on the strength of one’s immune system—if it’s strong, it can weather the introduction of the fungus.
The same thing goes for intercourse. Passing vaginal thrush to another person is rare, as rare as getting thrush through kissing, and it too depends on how well one’s immune system is functioning. If in doubt, avoid kissing and sex until the thrush has passed.
How Does Thrush Spread? Can Thrush Be Passed On?
Below are some common questions about thrush and how it can be passed on. For the most part, it’s actually quite difficult to pass it on or to “catch” it. It’s more likely it will develop independently of other people around you.
1. Can thrush spread? Yes. It can spread from the tongue to the mouth, gums, and the back of the throat. It depends on how active the fungus is. As soon as you suspect thrush, see a doctor to determine if you need antibiotics—starting treatment for oral thrush sooner than later can possibly prevent it from spreading.
2. Can thrush spread to the face? No, not generally. Thrush needs places that are warm and moist to grow.
3. Can thrush spread to the lungs? In very rare cases it can, so it’s best to see a doctor as soon as thrush is suspected to avoid this potential outcome.
4. Can thrush spread to the eyes? Yes, in extremely rare cases it can spread to the eyes. When it does, it’s called endophthalmitis.
5. Can thrush be passed on orally? Generally, no, but it can be passed on from a baby to the mother’s nipple.
6. Is thrush contagious from baby to baby? It can be, yes, if the babies share toys or pacifiers and the like. If another baby uses one of your baby’s items, always be sure to wash it before allowing your baby to place it in their mouth.
Can Thrush Return?
Thrush can most certainly return, but it isn’t like an infection where if not treated fully it will lay dormant and then come back because it wasn’t killed off completely. Candida is in the human body at all times, but can become overly active and will grow once particular conditions are met. If it keeps recurring, see your doctor to discuss what can be done to prevent future recurrences. A course of probiotics might help by strengthening your immune system and retuning gut flora to optimal levels. It’s important to know what thrush is so you can identify it and not become alarmed should it appear. It’s more a nuisance than anything else, but because it can spread and become more serious, do see a doctor once you suspect it’s there.
Sources for Today’s Article:
“Thrush (Oral Candidiasis),” Medicine Net web site; http://www.medicinenet.com/is_thrush_contagious/article.htm#what_is_thrush, last accessed March 15, 2016.
“Is Thrush Contagious?” Medicine Net web site; http://www.medicinenet.com/thrush/article.htm, last accessed March 15, 2016.
“Thrush Cause,” Web MD web site; http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/tc/thrush-cause, last accessed March 15, 2016.
“Thrush – Children and Adults,” Medline Plus web site; https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000626.htm, last accessed March 15, 2016.
“Sexual Conditions Guide,” Web MD web site; http://www.webmd.boots.com/sexual-conditions/guide/is-thrush-contagious, last accessed March 15, 2016.