Can Psoriasis Cause Thrush?

Medically reviewed by Steven Kim, MD on December 16, 2015Written by Annette McDermott on December 16, 2015

Psoriasis and thrush are two conditions that may cause a lot of pain and inconvenience. A recent study concluded that these two seemingly unrelated conditions might be linked.

Keep reading to learn more about this connection and what it may mean for you.

Thrush vs. Psoriasis

Oral thrush, also known as oral candidiasis, is caused by the Candida albicans fungus. Thrush is basically a yeast infection of the mouth. It occurs when Candida overgrows and causes white, cottage cheese-like lesions on the tongue, cheeks, roof of the mouth, and throat. Anyone can get thrush, but it often occurs in babies, the elderly, or people with a compromised immune system.

In addition to lesions, thrush symptoms may include:

  • severe pain that may make it difficult to eat, swallow, or talk
  • bleeding when lesions are scraped
  • dry mouth
  • cracked and red lips, especially in the corners
  • loss of taste

Psoriasis is a chronic autoimmune disorder that affects the skin. While the exact causes are unknown, it is believed that genetics may be responsible. Symptoms of psoriasis include:

  • raised, scaly skin lesions
  • itchiness
  • bleeding through skin cracks
  • pain
  • dry skin patches

Is Psoriasis a Risk Factor for Thrush?

Recent research suggests that people with psoriasis are more likely to have high levels of Candida in their saliva. These high levels may lead to thrush.

In one study, Candida levels were found to be much higher in people with psoriasis than in the control group. Researchers did not note a connection between psoriasis severity or treatment, or Candida amounts and incidence.

A later study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology also found an increase in thrush in people with psoriasis. In this study, researchers did find a strong connection between psoriasis severity and the presence of Candida.

Another study also confirmed the psoriasis-thrush relationship. In this study, the severity of psoriasis had no impact on the occurrence of Candida.

Treatments for Thrush

If you develop thrush, your doctor will likely prescribe an antifungal drug. This is the first line of treatment for most cases of thrush. The length of your treatment depends on the severity of the thrush infection and your overall health. If thrush is left untreated, it may lead to invasive candidiasis. Invasive candidiasis may affect the:

  • blood
  • brain
  • heart
  • eyes
  • bones

Invasive candidiasis usually requires hospitalization.

Topical thrush treatments include clotrimazole (Mycelex Troche) and nystatin suspension mouthwash. If thrush does not respond to these treatments, your doctor may prescribe systemic antifungals (via IV injection) such as fluconazole (Diflucan) or itraconazole (Onmel, Sporanox). Severe thrush may require treatment with amphotericin B injections.

You may also try using a home remedy to treat thrush. Check with your doctor to see if any of the following home remedies may help prevent thrush or relieve symptoms during an outbreak:

  • Brush your teeth twice daily.
  • Do not share your toothbrush.
  • Floss daily.
  • Do not use traditional mouthwash or mouth sprays unless prescribed by your doctor.
  • Rinse your mouth with warm salt water (do not swallow).
  • Keep your dentures clean.
  • Limit sugar and yeast in your diet.
  • Keep your blood sugar controlled if you have diabetes.

When to See Your Doctor

If you have psoriasis and exhibit thrush symptoms such as white patches, mouth pain, or redness, call your doctor. The earlier you seek treatment, the less chance your infection will become severe. You should also call your doctor if you’re being treated for thrush and your symptoms worsen or do not improve.

The Takeaway

People with psoriasis may be more likely to develop thrush. This is because they might have higher levels of Candida, the bacteria that causes thrush. However, more research is needed to fully understand the connection between thrush and psoriasis.

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