Oral thrush (mouth thrush)

Oral thrush is usually harmless. It's common in babies and older people with dentures. It can be easily treated with medicines bought from a pharmacy.

Check if it's oral thrush


The inside of a person's mouth which is red with lots of white patches.
When you have oral thrush, your mouth is red inside with white patches.
Red patches inside a person's mouth.
When you wipe off the white patches, they leave red spots that can bleed.

Other symptoms in adults are:

Oral thrush in adults is not contagious.


White coating on the top of a child's tongue.
A baby with oral thrush will have a white coating on their tongue. It may look like cottage cheese and it cannot be rubbed off easily.
White spots inside a baby's mouth.
Sometimes there are white spots in their mouth.

Babies with oral thrush may not want to feed.

Babies can pass oral thrush on through breastfeeding. This can cause nipple thrush in mothers.

If you're not sure it's oral thrush

Look at other causes of a white or sore tongue.

A pharmacist can help with oral thrush

Oral thrush can be easily treated with a mouth gel bought from a pharmacy. The gel is suitable for adults, children and babies over the age of 4 months.

Ask your pharmacist for advice. Always follow the instructions on the medicine packet.

If you leave oral thrush untreated, the infection can spread to other parts of the body.

Important: Mouth gel shortage

There are currently supply problems with the mouth gel used to treat oral thrush (miconazole, Daktarin Oral Gel). Talk to a pharmacist or doctor about other treatments that may help.

Non-urgent advice: See a GP if:

  • your baby is under 4 months and has signs of oral thrush
  • you have oral thrush and do not see any improvement after 1 week of treatment with a mouth gel
  • you have difficulty or pain when swallowing

How you can prevent oral thrush

Oral thrush is an infection caused by a fungus called Candida. Some things can make the fungus grow more than usual.

You might get thrush if you're:

There are some things you can do to help prevent oral thrush.


  • take care of your teeth: brush twice a day, clean your dentures, and go for regular check-ups even if you have dentures

  • brush your gums and tongue with a soft toothbrush if you do not have any teeth

  • rinse your mouth after eating or taking medicine

  • go to regular check-ups if you have a long-term condition like diabetes

  • sterilise dummies regularly

  • sterilise bottles after each use


  • do not wear dentures at night

  • do not keep wearing dentures if they do not fit properly – see your dentist

  • do not smoke

Page last reviewed: 5 June 2023
Next review due: 5 June 2026