Don't put up with the itch and burn of intimate infections. Here are the best thrush treatments to restore comfort to your holiest of holies
If you’re a woman, you’ve probably had thrush and will probably get it again, so the best thrush treatments are a bathroom cabinet must-have. And if you’re a man, there’s a good chance you’ll suffer from it, too. You don’t have to have sex to get thrush, but it can be passed between partners, so you could both soon be battling with the itch from hell – and should both use a thrush treatment. Luckily, thrush is extremely easy to treat using creams, pessaries or pills, and you don’t need a prescription or even a trip to the chemist to buy them.
Thrush is caused by all sorts of things that disrupt your body’s natural balance of bacteria. Antibiotics, fluctuating hormones, and too much shower gel in the wrong place can all bring on a thrush attack. It’s most common under the age of 20, before your immune system has fully developed, and can also be a real problem during pregnancy.
Skip down the page to discover our recommended best treatments for thrush, whatever brought on your latest bout. Or, to find out more about what’s going on down there when thrush attacks, read on.
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Best thrush treatment: At a glance
- Best vaginal thrush treatment: Canesten Combi | Buy now
- Strongest thrush treatment without prescription: Canesten Duo | Buy now
- Best thrush treatment for men: Fluconazole Capsule | Buy now
- Best thrush treatment for instant relief: Canesten Combi Creams | Buy now
- Best value treatment for mild thrush: Lloyds Pharmacy Thrush Femme | Buy now
How to choose the best thrush treatment for you
What is thrush, and what causes it?
Three-quarters of women suffer this common condition at least once. Like many fungal infections, it’s caused by an organism that normally lives quite happily in your body. Small amounts of the thrush-causing yeast fungus, called candida albicans, live on the mucosa (inner lining) of your vagina and in your gut, in a level that’s usually kept in check by good bacteria and your immune system.
But occasionally candida’s natural levels are disrupted, and then comes the dreaded itch. You may also feel a burning soreness, sometimes accompanied by a whitish odourless discharge. These symptoms can be really uncomfortable, but they’re easy to treat. For best results, treat the symptoms and the source of the infection at the same time, with a combination of internal and external treatments like those we recommend below.
If you want to make sure your symptoms are caused by thrush, you can now take a quick home test using Canestest (£7 from Amazon), from the makers of Canesten.
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What types of thrush treatment can I buy?
The most common (and best value) type of thrush treatment is an external antifungal cream such as Canesten Cream. Applying a thin layer to affected areas a couple of times a day is usually enough to soothe symptoms, and may also help to clear up the infection that causes them.
Pessaries and internal creams are also antifungal medications. They’re designed to coat the inside of your vagina, where they get to work attacking the cause of thrush while also relieving itching and pain.
Oral tablets and capsules are a ‘one-dose’ solution to thrush, with an entire course of medicine contained in a single pill. They tend to have more side-effects than topical creams and pessaries (they can make you feel a bit sick, similar to antibiotics), but many people prefer the no-contact approach.
There’s no significant difference in clinical cure rates between topical and oral thrush treatment, so it’s really down to personal choice. Creams (internal and external) do provide the fastest relief from itching.
What ingredients should I look for in the best thrush treatment?
Clotrimazole is mostly sold in the UK under the brand name Canesten. It’s the active ingredient in most external creams, internal creams and internal pessaries. Its antifungal properties work against other infections, too, such as athlete’s foot and ringworm. The main side-effect when used for thrush is that it can affect the latex in condoms, so you may need to double up on contraception. For more info, see the NHS page on clotrimazole.
Fluconazole is an antifungal that you take orally, as capsules or liquid. Fluconazole targets candida and prevents it from spreading. It’s a pharmacy-only medicine, so you may be asked to tick a couple of boxes (for example to confirm your age) before you can check out. Common side effects include nausea and drowsiness. For more info, see the NHS page on fluconazole.
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1. Canesten Thrush Combi: Best vaginal thrush treatment
Price: £9.99 | Buy now from Amazon
Most of the best thrush treatments are made by Canesten. The company started out with clotrimazole creams for thrush and then expanded to produce all manner of related treatments including fluconazole capsules (anti-thrush pills). They each have their benefits, but the Thrush Combi combination of external creams and internal gel pessary is our top choice for most cases of thrush.
The soft gel pessary is a relatively new innovation. It dissolves quickly to coat the inside of your vagina with soothing, healing cream. The applicator is very slim and easy to use (much easier than a tampon applicator, especially if you’re in pain), and you really don’t feel the pessary coming out of it. The cream may leak a bit, so it’s a good idea to insert the pessary before bed, and wear a panty liner the next day. But you won’t get the crumbly mess sometimes caused by Canesten’s old-style tablet pessary, which can be really uncomfortable if you’re sore and sensitive down there.
Most importantly, Canesten Combi really works to clear up thrush. In our own experience, the itch is gone within a day, and the infection doesn’t re-occur.
Key specs – Size: 10g tube and 500mg pessary; Format: External cream and internal pessary; Active ingredient: Clotrimazole 2%
2. Canesten Thrush Duo: Strongest thrush treatment you can buy without a prescription
Price: £14.09 | Buy now from Lloyds Pharmacy
You won’t find this Canesten combination on Amazon, because it’s a pharmacy-only medicine. You don’t need a prescription, though – just an extra few seconds to tick a box or two when buying from an online pharmacist. You won’t be asked to provide personal details.
Fluconazole is really effective at restoring the balance of bacteria in your body, and fighting the fungi or yeast causing your thrush. It usually only takes one dose of fluconazole to clear up thrush in men and women. Some users report needing a second dose, but make sure not to take a second within 24 hours. Fluconazone also has more side effects than clotrimazole, with nausea and diarrhoea the most common.
Key specs – Size: 10g tube and 150mg capsule; Format: External cream and oral capsule; Active ingredients: Clotrimazole 2%, Fluconazole 150mg
3. Fluconazole 150mg 1 Capsule: Best thrush treatment for men
Price: £1.49 (special offer) | Buy now from Pharmacy First
If you’re a man whose partner is suffering from thrush, it’ll benefit you both if you treat yourself, too. Otherwise, you may end up passing the infection to and fro between each other. Penile thrush doesn’t always have symptoms, so you may have no use for cream. Instead, pop a fluconazole capsule to get the candida fungus under control. As mentioned above, fluconazole is a pharmacy medicine, so you may have to tick a couple of extra boxes before checking out.
Note that the excellent £1.49 price tag is a special offer; normally this product costs £9.99. Canesten’s equivalent, Canesten Thrush Oral Capsule (150g fluconazole), is £10.99 from Lloyds Pharmacy.
Key specs – Size: x1; Format: Oral capsule; Active ingredient: Fluconazole 150mg
4. Canesten Thrush Combi Internal & External Creams: Best thrush treatment for immediate relief
Price: £11.80 | Buy now from Amazon
This is Canesten’s original thrush combi treatment. You insert the internal cream (which is five times stronger than the external cream) in the same way as a pessary, but it gets a little more messy. On the upside, it doesn’t have to dissolve, so the cream can get to work immediately, soothing the itch and fighting the infection. So, if you’re happy to put up with a bit of leakage, this is the box to reach for if you want immediate relief.
Key specs – Size: 10g; 500mg; Format: External cream, plus internal cream in applicator; Active ingredients: Clotrimazole 2% (external cream); 10% (internal cream)
5. Lloyds Pharmacy Thrush Femme: Best-value thrush treatment for mild recurring thrush
Price: £4.89 | Buy now from Lloyds Pharmacy
Generic clotrimazole cream is a great product to keep in the bathroom cabinet. This 1% cream won’t be strong enough to provide instant relief from severe thrush, and it’s not designed for internal use, so its ability to target the source of the infection is limited. But this value-for-money cream is strong enough to soothe recurring mild outbreaks of thrush, as well as other fungal infections.
Key specs – Size: 50g; Format: External cream; Active ingredient: Clotrimazole 1%
6. Canesflor Vaginal Probiotics: Best probiotic thrush treatment to prevent recurring infections
Price: £11.56 | Buy now from Amazon
Here’s another internal Canesten thrush treatment – but this time, they’re capsules that you insert into your vagina. Dosage is one per night for six days, then once a week for a month.
The capsules dissolve to coat the mucosal walls with probiotics, designed to restore healthy levels of lactobacillus bacteria (the good kind), while also creating a protective barrier to prevent thrush and other intimate infections. So they may not soothe itching, but they’re ideal for use after an attack of thrush, when you want to avoid it happening again. They’re also useful when you’re at risk, for example after a course of antibiotics.
Buyers report they’re great for controlling recurring bouts of thrush. Just be careful when getting the capsules out of the packet, since they’re fragile and can end up coming apart in your hands.
Key specs – Size: x10; Format: Internal capsule; Active ingredient: Lactobacillus plantarum P17630