Thrush is a common yeast infection caused by an overgrowth of Candida albicans fungus.

Candida lives in the body and on the surface of the skin, usually without issue. However, when it multiplies, it can cause an infection in various areas of the body, such as the:

  • esophagus
  • mouth
  • throat
  • groin area
  • armpits
  • genitals

Candida infection (candidiasis) can affect men and women, and is typically seen as harmless. It can, however, be accompanied by a number of uncomfortable symptoms, and can be a recurring condition.

Keep reading to learn more about recurring thrush, including what can cause it, and how to treat it.

Recurring thrush is not uncommon. It’s described as having four or more associated episodes within one year, or at least three episodes unrelated to antibiotic treatment within one year.

According to Dr. Erika Ringdahl in an article published in the journal American Family Physician, a recurrent infection differs from a persistent infection due to the presence of a symptom-free period.

Recurrent refers to a situation in which the condition comes back. Persistent refers to a condition that never goes away.

Ringdahl explained that more than 50 percent of women over the age of 25 years experience at least one thrush infection, specifically a vulvovaginal infection. Fewer than 5 percent of those cases become recurrent.

Women are more likely to experience recurrent genital thrush or candidiasis than men.

You may also be at a higher risk of developing thrush if you:

Other factors that can trigger recurrent thrush may include:

  • stress
  • genetic predispositions, specifically for women
  • treatment resistance
  • taking antibiotics
  • wearing tight clothing
  • using products that irritate sensitive areas
  • the menstrual cycle, which may cause monthly thrush episodes
  • hormonal or vaginal pH changes
  • sexual activity
  • having a weakened immune system (such as HIV or chemotherapy treatments)

Prescribed antifungal medication is often the best way to rid the body of thrush.

After proper diagnosis to determine the kind of infection and its location, your healthcare provider will provide you with an antifungal treatment in one of the following forms:

  • tablet
  • liquid
  • lozenge
  • topical cream

With treatment, thrush should clear up within 10 to 14 days.

However, in more severe cases of recurrent or persistent thrush, your healthcare provider may recommend an extended treatment period, sometimes up to six months.

You can also help to reduce the severity of thrush symptoms and lower the chances of recurrent thrush with home self-care, such as:

For skin thrush

  • wearing cotton underwear or clothing
  • drying the area effectively after washing
  • avoiding tight clothing
  • avoiding sexual activity until the infection has completely cleared up

For thrush in the mouth, throat, and esophagus

In general, to help prevent recurrent thrush, it’s important to practice good personal hygiene and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Keeping your immune system strong can help your body to fight off infections.

To further prevent triggering a recurrent thrush, you can also:

  • brush your teeth and floss regularly
  • avoid high-sugar foods
  • change your underwear after swimming or working out
  • avoid using perfumed soaps and shower gels
  • take showers instead of baths
  • practice sex with a condom or other barrier method

Thrush, though generally harmless, can become a bothersome, recurring condition. If you begin to experience irregular and uncomfortable symptoms, schedule a visit with your healthcare provider.

An early diagnosis can help to determine treatment and decrease the chance of experiencing chronic symptoms.