Oral thrush is a fungal infection quite common in both adults and infants. It usually affects the mouth and mostly occurs as a result of disturbed pH balance in the body. It could also be a side effect of an existing medical condition.
While it is often treated with medications, certain home remedies can also help. Here, we have listed the 15 top home remedies for oral thrush, causes, symptoms, and prevention tips. Keep reading.
In This Article
What Is Oral Thrush?
Oral thrush is a fungal infection caused by Candida albicans. Candida is a yeast fungus and is always present in small amounts in the oral cavities in most individuals. However, given the right growth conditions, this fungus can multiply rapidly and cause an infection.
This infection is often characterized by the formation of a white layer that covers the entire mouth and throat (1). These lesions resemble cottage cheese and can be observed on the tongue and inner cheeks. One may even experience redness and irritation. However, oral thrush can be treated with antifungal medication and usually subsides in a week or two.
Besides medications, oral thrush may also be treated with certain natural remedies that we have listed below. However, consult your doctor before trying any of these remedies.
How To Treat Oral Thrush Naturally
1. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is known to have antifungal properties. Consuming it daily can help combat the fungal infection caused by oral thrush (2).
In a glass of warm water, add 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar. You can also add honey for flavor. Sip it slowly. You can do this twice a day.
2. Coconut Oil
Oil pulling with coconut oil can help in treating oral thrush. This is because the antifungal properties of coconut oil may help eliminate the yeast fungus (3).
Swish coconut oil in your mouth every morning on an empty stomach. Continue doing it for 10 to 15 minutes and then spit it out. You can do this once a day in the morning.
Yogurt boosts the production of probiotics in your body (4). Some believe these probiotics may eliminate the fungal infection. However, more research is warranted in this regard.
Place a tablespoon of yogurt in your mouth. Leave it for 5 minutes before swallowing it. You can do it thrice a day.
4. Baking Soda
Baking soda, also known as sodium bicarbonate, can kill fungal agents that cause infections (5). It might help treat oral thrush too – though more information is needed in this regard.
Mix ½ a tablespoon of baking soda in a glass of water and rinse your mouth with the solution. You can do it 2 to 3 times a day until you see results.
5. Essential Oils
Tea tree oil is a natural antiseptic and has anti-inflammatory properties. It may combat the fungus that causes oral thrush (6 7), (6 7). You can also replace tea tree oil with peppermint oil. Peppermint oil has antimicrobial, antifungal, and antibacterial properties – and may help treat (8).
Mix 2 tablespoons of tea tree oil and 2 teaspoons of water (if you are using peppermint oil, mix 2 to 3 drops in a glass of water). Swish this solution inside your mouth for 30 to 60 seconds and spit it out. Do this 4 to 5 times a day for optimum results.
Garlic contains allicin, a compound known for its powerful antifungal, antiviral, and antibiotic properties (9). It also may help treat symptoms of oral thrush. However, more research is warranted in this regard.
Chew a clove of raw garlic for 2 to 3 minutes and swallow it. You can do this thrice a day.
7. Salt Water Rinse
Salt or NaCl is antifungal in nature. It mainly promotes osmoregulation and diverts an organism away from its growth (10). This may help fight the fungus.
Mix ½ a tablespoon of salt in lukewarm water. Rinse your mouth with this solution. You can do it thrice a day.
8. Cranberry Juice
Cranberry juice is rich in nutrients and is acidic. It creates an acidic environment in your mouth and may kill most fungi. The proanthocyanidins in cranberries exhibit anti-adherence properties that inhibit the adherence of C. albicans inside your mouth (11).
Drink a cup of unsweetened cranberry juice once or twice a day.
9. Lemon Juice
Lemon is replete with antifungal properties and may help treat oral thrush (12).
Squeeze half lemon in a glass of water. Add honey for flavor. Drink immediately without storing it. You can do it twice or thrice a day.
10. Vitamin C
Vitamin C is a natural antioxidant and is also acidic. It enhances immunity and may help fight oral thrush (13). However, more information is warranted in this area.
You can consume a 1000 mg vitamin C capsule twice a day. However, inform your doctor before consuming any medication. You can do it twice a day.
Oral thrush may also be a result of a deficiency in vitamins B3 and D or iron. In such cases, the respective vitamins and minerals must be taken to address oral thrush.
11. Grape Seed Extract
Grape seed extract can treat a variety of ailments. However, it is more effective against candida due to its antifungal properties. It will also boost your immune system and prevent chances of reinfection by the fungus (14), (15).
Consume 250 mg of grape seed extract supplement thrice a day for visible results.
12. Pineapple Juice
Pineapples contain bromelain, a potential antifungal agent that breaks down microorganisms and eliminates them (16). This may help in combating fungal infection.
Cut ¼ a pineapple into small pieces. Chew on these pieces once a while. You can do this 2 to 3 times a day.
13. Orange Juice
Oranges are citrus fruits like lemons. They are rich in vitamin C, also referred to as ascorbic acid. Vitamin C is acidic and helps keep the Candida fungus in check (17).
Peel one orange and blend it with a glass of water in a mixer. Sip this juice once daily.
14. Aloe Vera Juice
Take some gel from the aloe vera plant and apply it to your tongue and inner cheeks. Alternatively, you can also drink ¼ glass of aloe vera juice once daily.
Rinse your mouth after every meal with any antifungal mouthwash containing fluconazole. Follow this regimen at least thrice daily.
In addition to these remedies, you can also follow a few tips to prevent oral thrush, increase the efficacy of your treatment, and accelerate your recovery.
Preventing Oral Thrush
- Brush your teeth at least twice daily and floss regularly.
- In case you are using a corticosteroid inhaler, rinse your mouth after every use.
- If you are on antibiotics, include yogurt in your diet.
- If you are affected by a vaginal yeast infection, treat it immediately.
- Disinfect your dentures, especially after an infection.
- Rinse your mouth with warm saltwater.
- Avoid intake of sugar and sweets. Also, stay away from pork meat, fish like tuna and swordfish, some dairy products, processed vegetable oils, alcohol, and caffeinated drinks.
- Follow a diet rich in vegetables, proteins, and fermented foods like yogurt and kimchi.
Oral thrush is often mild and is not a cause for concern. The symptoms are also usually moderate and can be treated quite easily. Although the remedies mentioned here can help in the treatment of oral thrush to a large extent, it is better to see your doctor if the condition persists. You must also always follow a healthy diet and practice good oral hygiene to prevent the recurrence of this infection in the future.
In the following section, we will look at the causes of oral thrush.
Causes of Oral Thrush
Causes In Adults
- Cancer treatments: Cancer treatments like chemotherapy have the potential to damage the mucous membranes of your mouth and lead to oral infections (22).
- Dentures: Wearing dentures can lead to oral thrush. This is one reason the condition could be common in older people using dentures. However, there is no significant research in this regard.
- Diseases: Those affected by diseases like AIDS and diabetes can develop oral thrush (23), (24).
- Smoking: Smoking can lead to oral thrush (25). However, the exact mechanism of how smoking elevates the growth of candida species is not clear yet.
- Medications: The use of medications like antibiotics and corticosteroids may also result in oral thrush. However, clear scientific research is lacking in this aspect.
Causes In Infants
- Contracted from mothers: Most infants contract oral thrush at birth from their mothers. This is usually the case if the mothers have a history of vaginal yeast infection caused by the same fungus that causes oral thrush (26).
- Antibiotics: Chances of developing oral thrush are higher in babies when the mother has taken a prolonged course of antibiotics or if the child is administered high doses of antibiotics (27).
- Weak immunity: Babies have weak immunity, and hence, they may easily get infected by the fungus and develop oral thrush.
Irrespective of the cause, the symptoms associated with oral thrush are often common. Following are the symptoms of oral thrush.
Symptoms Of Oral Thrush
Initially, the symptoms associated with this infection are hardly noticeable. But they tend to develop over time and are often mild to moderate in nature (28). The most common symptoms associated with oral thrush are:
- Formation of a white bumpy layer over the entire mouth and tonsils
- Loss of taste
- Cracking of the skin at the corners of the mouth (29)
- Signs of bleeding on scraping the white layer
- The bumps under the white layer may show signs of pain
- Difficulty in swallowing or speaking
- Infants may experience difficulty in eating when affected by this condition
Although these symptoms are usually harmless, they could aggravate the condition if left untreated and may even interrupt your daily life. Thus, it is always advised to get rid of the thrush as soon as you notice its appearance. The home remedies given here can help you in combating the fungal infection and its symptoms.
When To See A Doctor?
If you observe any white patches or lesions that are red and painful, consult your doctor immediately. An early diagnosis and initiation of treatment can reduce the progression and severity of the thrush.
Oral thrush is a treatable medical condition. However, early diagnosis and medication will improve the efficacy of the treatment. If you or anyone you know are suffering from oral thrush, the mentioned remedies can soothe the condition to some extent. Try any of these remedies along with the prescribed medical treatments.
Expert’s Answers For Readers’ Questions
What is the best treatment for oral thrush?
The best treatment for oral thrush is antifungal therapy. The use of antifungal agents can help you recover quickly.
What are the long-term effects of oral thrush?
In some cases, oral thrush may last for a long time and may even spread to other body parts if left untreated. This condition can usually be treated completely.
How long does oral thrush usually last?
In both babies and adults, oral thrush usually lasts for 2 to 3 weeks if treated on time. However, in rare cases, the thrush might persist despite treatment. In such instances, it is recommended to consult your general physician immediately.
How do I get instant relief from thrush?
Topical antifungal creams can give instant relief. Sipping on water may also help as it may decrease the toxin buildup in the body and combats the infection.
How long does oral thrush last without treatment?
If you leave oral thrush untreated, it may last for 4 weeks. It may even last for 8 weeks in few cases. However, untreated oral thrush can be painful and irritating.
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- Antifungal Activity of Apple Cider Vinegar on Candida Species Involved in Denture Stomatitis
- In Vitro Antimicrobial Properties of Coconut Oil on Candida Species in Ibadan Nigeria
- Yogurt as probiotic carrier food
- Antifungal activity of sodium bicarbonate against fungal agents causing superficial infections
- Sensitivity of Candida albicans to essential oils: are they an alternative to antifungal agents?
- Antifungal activity of the components of Melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree) oil
- Antifungal activity of peppermint and sweet basil essential oils and their major aroma constituents on some plant pathogenic fungi from the vapor phase
- Antimicrobial properties of allicin from garlic
- Sodium Chloride Inhibits the Growth and Infective Capacity of the Amphibian Chytrid Fungus and Increases Host Survival Rates
- Cranberry proanthocyanidins inhibit the adherence properties of Candida albicans and cytokine secretion by oral epithelial cells
- Treatment of oral thrush in HIV/AIDS patients with lemon juice and lemon grass (Cymbopogon citratus) and gentian violet
- Vitamin C physiology: the known and the unknown and Goldilocks
- Synergic effect of grape seed extract with amphotericin B against disseminated candidiasis due to Candida albicans
- Candidiasis: Predisposing Factors Prevention Diagnosis and Alternative Treatment
- Potential role of bromelain in clinical and therapeutic applications
- Ascorbic acid inhibition of Candida albicans Hsp90-mediated morphogenesis occurs via the transcriptional regulator Upc2
- Clinical Effectiveness of Aloe Vera in the Management of Oral Mucosal Diseases- A Systematic Review
- Comparative antimicrobial activities of aloe vera gel and leaf
- Efficacy of nystatin for the treatment of oral candidiasis: a systematic review and meta-analysis
- Oropharyngeal Candidiasis in Patients with AIDS: Randomized Comparison of Fluconazole Versus Nystatin Oral Suspensions
- Oral Complications of Chemotherapy and Head/Neck Radiation (PDQ®)–Patient Version
- Human immunodeficiency virus-induced oral candidiasis
- Identification of Candida species in the oral cavity of diabetic patients
- The impact of cigarette/tobacco smoking on oral candidosis: an overview
- Invasive candidiasis and oral manifestations in premature newborns
- NEONATAL CANDIDIASIS: DIAGNOSIS PREVENTION AND TREATMENT
- A Novel Murine Model of Oral Candidiasis with Local Symptoms Characteristic of Oral Thrush
- Oral Candidiasis