Oral candidiasis

Created 2003 by Dr Amanda Oakley, Dermatologist, Hamilton, New Zealand. Latest update by Dr Jannet Gomez, March 2017. 

What is oral candidiasis?

Oral candidiasis is often known as thrush, because its white spots resemble the breast of the bird with the same name. Although candida is present in 50% of normal flora of healthy mouths, it causes infection (candidiasis) when increased numbers of yeast cells invade the mucosa (the name for the moist skin inside body openings).

Predisposing factors for candida infection

The usual organism is Candida albicans, but C. tropicalis is sometimes responsible.  C. dubliniensis is also reported in HIV patients.

More images of oral candidiasis ...

Clinical features of oral candida infection

Candida may arise suddenly as an acute infection or persist for long periods as a chronic infection

Classification of oral candida infection

Severe infections may extend down the throat (oesophageal infection) and cause difficulty with swallowing.

How is the diagnosis of oral candidiasis made?

Microscopy and culture of skin swabs and scrapings aid in the diagnosis of candidal infections. However, candida can live on a mucosal surface quite harmlessly. It may also secondarily infect an underlying disorder.

In extensive oral candidiasis, endoscopy is performed to see the extent of the lesions into the gastrointestinal tract.

Prevention of oral candidiasis

Practice good oral hygiene.

Denture wearers 

Treatment of oral candidiasis 

Mouthwashes with anti-candidal activity include:

Topical antifungal products for oral candidiasis include:

Treatment should be continued for 1–4 weeks or until symptoms have been clear for 7 days.

Related information

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