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yeast infection results from an overgrowth of yeast (a type of fungus) anywhere in the body. Candidiasis is by far the most common type of yeast infection. There are more than 20 species of Candida, the most common being Candida albicans. These fungi live on all surfaces of our bodies.
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How to get rid of a yeast infection
Last reviewed Thu 15 June 2017
By Jayne Leonard
Reviewed by Debra Rose Wilson, PhD, MSN, RN, IBCLC, AHN-BC, CHT
When to see a doctor
A yeast infection is a common type of fungal infection. One place it targets is the genital area, which leads to pain, itching, and discharge. But what ways can a yeast infection be treated at home?
Women are more prone to genital yeast infections, with 75 percent experiencing at least one in their lives. However, men can also get a genital yeast infection.
A yeast called candida albicans is the most common cause of these infections. However, other types of yeasts can also be responsible.
A range of treatments is available for yeast infections, including many self-administered home remedies. This article explores eight home remedies for a yeast infection to help people find what works best for them.
Yeast infections may be treated at home with antifungal creams available from pharmacies and drug stores.
In many cases, yeast infections can be easily and successfully treated at home. This is done with either over-the-counter products or alternative therapies.
Anecdotal reports suggest that many women experience relief from such home treatments.
However, scientific evidence varies for the effectiveness of these alternative therapies.
1. Over-the-counter treatments
Antifungal treatments in the form of creams or pessaries can be purchased over the counter to treat yeast infections. These are available without a prescription and are available to purchase online, or are found in:
Depending on the product, the treatment may be for external or internal use and treat the infection with:
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a single application
a 3-day application
a weeklong application
Treatments that are applied internally have been shown to cure more than 80 percent of vaginal yeast infections. These contain powerful antifungals called azoles.
2. Boric acid
Vaginal boric acid capsules can work for women with a yeast infection. These may be especially useful for women with recurrent infections.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests a dosage of 600 mg of boric acid in a capsule inserted vaginally once a day for 14 days. Before purchasing any suppositories, consult with a doctor.
Some research reports that topically applied boric acid, along with the antifungal flucytosine, successfully treats approximately 70 percent of women. This study looked at women with yeast infections that did not respond to azole-based antifungal treatments.
3. Tea tree oil
Tea tree oil has antifungal properties that may kill yeasts and fungi.
Tea tree oil has long been prized for its antifungal properties. A review of research on this essential oil confirmed its ability to kill a range of yeasts and fungi.
In the majority of the studies reviewed, tea tree oil was tested on candida albicans, one of the most common yeasts in vaginal infections.
Vaginal suppositories containing tea tree oil have been shown to treat vaginal fungal infections. Some women report relief from adding diluted tea tree oil to a tampon and inserting this into the vagina overnight.
However, extreme caution must be used when using tea tree oil, as it can irritate the skin, and the vaginal walls are particularly sensitive.
Tea tree is an essential oil and, as such, needs to be mixed with a carrier oil. People can use 3-5 drops of tea tree oil in 1 ounce of warmed coconut oil to soak a tampon. It is important to change the tampon regularly.
Also, people can be allergic to tea tree oil. Test the diluted oil on an area the size of a dime on the forearm, and if there is no reaction in 12 to 24 hours, it may be safe to use on the more sensitive genital area.
Other research indicates that a component of tea tree oil (terpinen-4-ol) enhances the activity of the common antifungal drug fluconazole. This is in cases of drug-resistant candida albicans.
4. Probiotic supplements
Some probiotic supplements may offer a natural solution to yeast infection. These are available in pharmacies and health stores, or online.
Some brands of probiotic supplements sell specially formulated products for female reproductive health. These aim to restore the balance of bacteria and yeast in the vagina. The supplements are taken orally or inserted vaginally.
In a 2012 study, women with chronic yeast infections inserted a specially formulated probiotic pill into the vagina. Nearly 87 percent reported an improvement in their symptoms. The treatment also had a long-term effect on the yeast responsible for the infection.
In the study, the women used one pill a night for a week. They then inserted one every third night for 3 weeks. After this, they used the treatment just once a week on an ongoing basis as a preventative measure.
Other research suggests that the probiotic lactobacilli can increase the effectiveness of antifungal medications being taken by women with vaginal yeast infection.
5. Natural yogurt
Natural, unsweetened, non-flavored yogurt contains beneficial bacteria, called probiotics. These contribute to health and help restore the balance of bacteria and yeast in the body.
A 2006 review of research found that certain types of probiotics may combat some of the yeasts that cause vaginal yeast infection. While the reviewers flagged issues with several of the studies they cited, many people report relief from:
applying to the vulva around the vagina
inserting it vaginally
6. Coconut oil
Coconut oil has antifungal properties and has been shown to combat the Candida albicans yeast. Raw organic coconut oil can be applied internally or externally to ease symptoms.
Warmed coconut oil can also be used as a carrier oil for more powerful antifungal essential oils, including tea tree oil or oil of oregano.
Coconut oil is available to purchse online. Some products may be specifically suited for cooking, rather than for use on skin, so compare products and brands to choose an appropriate product.
Garlic is a known antifungal and antibiotic. However, recent research suggests that eating garlic has no effect on the levels of yeast in the vagina.
As an alternative to eating garlic, some women have tried using garlic internally. They claim to experience relief from yeast infection, by placing a garlic clove, threaded with a string, into the vagina overnight. While there is no evidence to say this works, it is a low-risk home remedy for yeast infection.
People with sensitive skin may experience burning and even skin damage. As such, people should not use garlic if they have sensitive skin. If the burning sensation worsens, people should discontinue use.
Also, a vaginal cream containing garlic and thyme was found to be as effective as clotrimazole vaginal cream in the treatment of yeast infection.
8. Oil of oregano
Wild oregano oil may slow or halt the growth of yeast.
Most oregano oil is made using the common oregano, origanum marjoram, which has no special properties.
However, oil of oregano made from the wild oregano, origanum vulgare, contains two potent antifungals: thymol and carvacrol.
Using wild oregano oil was shown in some research to halt or inhibit the growth of Candida albicans. Capsules containing oil of oregano may be inserted into the vagina at night. Alternatively, it can be applied to a tampon before insertion. Comparing different products is recommended.
Essential oils should be mixed with carrier oils before use and never applied directly to the skin. People can mix 3-5 drops of oil of oregano essential oil in 1 ounce of sweet almond oil, warmed coconut oil, or olive oil. A tampon should be soaked in this mixture for a few minutes, then insert and change every 2-4 hours during the day. People should not leave a medicated tampon in for more than 6 hours. It is a good idea to test for allergies to oil of oregano on the forearm before use.
When to avoid home remedies
Many home remedies are safe for the most people with yeast infections. However, the following people should not try to treat themselves:
anyone who has been exposed to a sexually transmitted infection
people with a recurrent yeast infection
people who are unsure if their symptoms are caused by a yeast infection
Vaginal yeast infections are a common complaint preventable by taking simple precautions. These include:
wearing loose-fitting clothing and cotton underwear
avoiding tight jeans and pantyhose, as yeast thrives in moist and warm environments
changing out of wet swimwear or gym clothing, as soon as possible
avoiding vaginal sprays, perfumes, and lotions, which can irritate the vagina and cause an imbalance of bacteria and yeast
drying the genital area thoroughly after showering or bathing
using a water-based lubricant during sexual intercourse
showering after intercourse and oral sex
taking probiotics or eating probiotic-rich foods
reducing sugar consumption, as yeast feeds on sugar
taking antibiotics only when necessary, as these upset the body's balance of bacteria and yeast
considering contraceptive choice, as estrogen-based contraception may promote the growth of yeast
The symptoms of a yeast infection include:
pain, itching, or burning in or around the vagina
vaginal burning upon urination
a thick, white vaginal discharge, resembling cottage cheese
skin fissures or sores
In men, symptoms are noticeable at the head of the penis and include:
When to see a doctor
While home remedies can resolve many cases of yeast infection, they are not effective in all situations.
It is important that people seek medical treatment if:
they are pregnant
this is their first yeast infection, as a medical diagnosis is necessary
the yeast infection is severe, or there are fissures or sores
infections are recurrent, appearing 4 or more times a year
symptoms do not improve within a few days of self-administered treatment
there are underlying medical conditions, such as diabetes or a compromised immune system
Candidiasis (Yeast Infection, Candida)
Melissa Conrad Stˆppler, MD, Chief Medical Editor
Jerry R. Balentine, DO, FACEP
Candidiasis Yeast Infection Facts
A yeast infection results from an overgrowth of yeast (a type of fungus) anywhere in the body. Candidiasis is by far the most common type of yeast infection. There are more than 20 species of Candida, the most common being Candida albicans. These fungi live on all surfaces of our bodies. Under certain conditions, they can become so numerous they cause infections, particularly in warm and moist areas. Examples of such infections are vaginal yeast infections, thrush (infection of tissues of the oral cavity), skin, including diaper rash, beneath large breasts, and nailbed infections.
* Candida infections commonly occur in warm moist body areas, such as underarms. Usually your skin effectively blocks yeast, but any breakdown or cuts in the skin may allow this organism to penetrate.
* Typical affected areas in babies include the mouth and diaper areas.
* Vaginal yeast infection, which is the most common form of vaginitis is often referred to as vaginal Candidiasis.
* In adults, oral yeast infections become more common with increased age. Adults also can have yeast infections around dentures, in skin folds under the breast and lower abdomen, nailbeds, and beneath other skin folds. Most of these candida infections are superficial and clear up easily with treatment. Infections of the nailbeds often require prolonged therapy.
* Rarely, the yeast infection may spread throughout the body. In systemic candidal disease (in which the fungus enters the bloodstream and spreads throughout the body), up to 45% of people may die. Even common mouth and vaginal yeast infections can cause critical illness and can be more resistant to normal treatment.
* Yeast infections that return may be a sign of more serious diseases such as diabetes, leukemia, or AIDS.
Candidiasis Yeast Infection Causes
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* In women, yeast infections are the second most common reason for vaginal burning, itching, and discharge. Yeast are found in the vagina of 20% to 50% of healthy women and can overgrow if the environment in the vagina changes. Antibiotic and steroid use is the most common reason for yeast overgrowth. However, pregnancy, menstruation, diabetes, and birth control pills also can contribute to getting a yeast infection. Yeast infections are more common after menopause
* In people who have a weakened immune system because of cancer treatments, steroids, or diseases such as AIDS, candida infections can occur throughout the entire body and can be life-threatening. The blood, brain, eye, kidney, and heart are most frequently affected, but Candida also can grow in the lungs, liver, and spleen. Candida is a leading cause of esophagitis (inflammation in the swallowing tube) in people with AIDS.
* Almost 15% of people with weakened immune systems develop a systemic illness caused by Candida. These infections enter into the bloodstream through breakdowns or cuts in the skin or mucous membranes. Candidal organisms may build up in an area because of frequent use of antibiotics, which kill the bacteria that normally keep them under control.
* Use of implanted devices and tubes that penetrate into the body like urinary catheters and IV ports/lines also provide access for the yeast to enter the body. IV drug users utilizing dirty needles may inject the yeast directly into their bloodstream or deep tissues.
Candidiasis Yeast Infection Symptoms and Signs
Signs and symptoms of a candida infection can vary depending on the location of the infection.
* In women, signs and symptoms of a vaginal yeast infection are a white discharge that is thick and often described as having a cottage cheese appearance. The infection typically causes itching and irritates the vagina and surrounding outer tissues. On occasion there may be pain with sexual intercourse or burning with urination.
* Genital yeast infection in men: Men may develop symptoms of a genital yeast infection after intercourse with a woman who has a vaginal yeast infection. However, yeast infection is not considered to be a sexually-transmitted disease (STD) because women can have the yeast normally in the body and do not acquire it from an outside source. Most experts do not recommend treatment of male sex partners of women with candida yeast infection unless they develop symptoms. Symptoms can include itching and burning of the penis as well as a rash on the skin of the penis.
* In infants and adults, a candida infection can appear many different ways.
o Oral candidiasis is called thrush. Thick, white lacy patches on top of a red base can form on the tongue, palate, or elsewhere inside the mouth. These patches sometimes look like milk curds but cannot be wiped away as easily as milk can. If the white plaques are wiped away with a blade or cotton-tipped applicator, the underlying tissue may bleed. This infection also may make the tongue look red without the white coating. Thrush can be painful and make it difficult to eat. Care should be given to make sure a person with thrush does not become dehydrated. Thrush was formerly referred to as moniliasis, based upon an older name for Candid albicans (Monilia).
o Candida organisms naturally live on the skin, but breakdown of the outer layers of skin promote the yeast's overgrowth. This typically occurs when the environment is warm and moist such as in diaper areas and skin folds. Superficial candida skin infections appear as a red flat rash with sharp scalloped edges. There are usually smaller patches of similar appearing rash nearby, known as "satellite lesions." These rashes may cause itching or pain.
* In people with weakened immune systems, candidal infections can affect various internal organs and cause pain or dysfunction of the organ. People with suppressed immune systems due to AIDS, chemotherapy, steroids or other conditions may contract a yeast infection called esophagitis in their upper gastrointestinal (GI) systems. This infection is similar to thrush but extends down the mouth and esophagus to the stomach. Candida esophagitis can cause painful ulcers throughout the GI system, making it too painful to swallow even liquids. If the infection spreads into the intestines, food may be poorly absorbed. People with this condition are in danger of becoming dehydrated. There may be associated pain in the area of the sternum (breast bone), pain in the upper abdomen, and/or nausea and vomiting.
* If Candida gets into the bloodstream, the person may become sick with or without fever. If the infection spreads to the brain, they may have acute changes in mental function or behavior.
Vaginal Yeast Infection symptoms
The following are symptoms associated with vaginal yeast infections:
* irritated vagina and vaginal area,
* vaginal discharge (typically white-gray and thick, with a consistency resembling cottage cheese),
* intense itching of the genitals,
* painful or burning urination, or
* painful intercourse.
Learn more about vaginal yeast infection ª
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When to Seek Medical Care
When to call the doctor
For healthy children and adults, if a medication is tried and fails, or symptoms become worse, consult your health care practitioner. All people with weakened immune systems should contact their health care practitioners with any new symptoms or infections.
* Various conditions can cause nonmenstrual vaginal discharge in women, such as gonorrhea, chlamydia, trichomoniasis, and bacterial vaginosis.
o If you are having abnormal vaginal discharge and are not sure whether you have a yeast infection, consult your health care professional.
o If yeast infections recur, see your doctor for a more thorough work-up. Candidiasis that recurs may be a symptom of a hidden disease such as diabetes, leukemia, or AIDS.
o Other symptoms such as bloody discharge, abdominal pain, fever, and increased urination also can indicate more serious problems, and you should seek medical help.
* Oral thrush needs a prescription medication and a prompt visit to the doctor. If children take no fluids for longer than 12 hours, contact your doctor. Any fever or prolonged problems with feeding also warrant a visit to a doctor.
* Diaper rash or other candida infections on the skin can be treated with over-the-counter nystatin powders (Mycostatin, Nilstat, Nystat-Rx, Nystex, O-V Staticin) or antifungal creams and lotions.
o If the rash worsens at any time, or if the lesions do not clear in 1-2 weeks, call your doctor.
o Fever, chills, nausea, vomiting, or the rash spreading to other parts of your body may be a sign of a more serious illness.
* People with weakened immune systems must take all forms of candidiasis seriously and treat them aggressively. The infection may indicate that your immune system is functioning poorly. Your doctor should evaluate any symptoms of candidal infections.
o If you already are being treated for a candidal infection and the symptoms worsen or do not improve, notify your doctor.
o Fevers, chills, vomiting, general illness, or worsening rash needs to be investigated promptly.
When to go to the hospital
Most cases of candidiasis do not have to be treated in the hospital. People with weakened immune systems may have more serious infections, however, and may need to be hospitalized.
* Women should go to the hospital when fever, chills, nausea and vomiting, or abdominal pain accompanies vaginal discharge. These symptoms can indicate a more serious problem such as kidney infections, appendicitis, or pelvic inflammatory disease. These potential conditions need to be investigated promptly.
* If thrush interferes with drinking liquids or eating for long periods of time, people may need to be hospitalized for more aggressive medications and replacement of body fluids.
* Candida skin infections rarely require hospital treatment.
* People with weak immune systems run the risk of the candidal organisms spreading to their blood or internal organs, which can cause life-threatening illness. IV medication may be necessary to combat this systemic illness. Your doctor should promptly investigate symptoms of illness or general malaise.
Candidiasis Yeast Infection Diagnosis
For healthy people, most physicians can diagnose a candida infection without laboratory tests. Occasionally, if the infection won't go away or involves the entire body, more extensive tests may need to be performed.
* The only definitive way to diagnose a vaginal yeast infection is to complete a full gynecologic exam.
o This exam includes a speculum exam, using a specialized instrument to hold open your vagina. The exam can be uncomfortable because of pressure against the tissues. The health care practitioner will take a swab of the discharge and may obtain other cultures to rule out other diseases. The swab for yeast will be mixed with a drop of potassium hydroxide and will be placed on a slide. If yeast are present, a specific branching pattern will be seen through the microscope.
o The doctor then may insert two fingers into your vagina and gently press on your uterus, ovaries, and surrounding areas to check for any tenderness or other problems. The health care practitioner also may take blood and urine specimens after this exam. You should not douche or have sexual intercourse 1-2 days before the exam, because doing so may make the diagnosis more difficult.
* In healthy children and adults, a quick exam of the mouth or skin usually confirms the diagnosis of candidiasis. If there is any confusion about the diagnosis, the health care practitioner may obtain a small scraping of the area, which will be placed on a slide with potassium hydroxide and examined for a branching pattern consistent with yeast.
* In people with weakened immune systems, oral, vaginal, and skin candida infections usually can be diagnosed by visual infection. When a person becomes sick, the health care practitioner may perform more invasive tests to confirm the diagnosis. Specimen collection may be necessary to check for Candida in the blood and urinary tracts. People with catheters may have their catheters changed and the catheter tips sent for culture. If a CT scan or MRI indicates candidiasis of the brain, health care practitioners may take a biopsy to distinguish between Candida and other diseases. Usually health care practitioner give IV medications for serious systemic infections.
How to Get Rid of a Vaginal Yeast Infection for Good
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Vaginal yeast infection - Dr. Axe
Millions of women suffer vaginal yeast infections every year ó including painful infections that re-emerge just when you think theyíre gone for good. In fact, according to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), estimates show that around 75 percent of all women will have a vaginal yeast infection at some point in their lives! (1)
What causes a vaginal yeast infection? You guessed it: yeast! But did you know that the same type of fungal yeast that grows outdoors on trees and plants is actually very similar to the type that can develop inside the body and lead to an infection? Itís true!
While the type of yeast that causes vaginal yeast infections as well as candida symptoms can be completely harmless, at some point its levels can reach high enough to take over our bodyís ìgood bacteriaî and cause a vaginal infection or worse.
The good news is that there are several natural steps you can take to get rid of a vaginal yeast infection for good. Vaginal yeast infections can be treated naturally at home with supplements, essential oils, a nutrient-rich diet and probiotics. Take a look at six home remedies I recommend to prevent and/or treat this issue that too many women just canít seem to shake.
What Is a Vaginal Yeast Infection?
The human body is home to millions of yeast organisms, many of which are considered ìgoodî as far as our health is concerned. Consider this: Mushrooms and the type of yeast used to make beer and bread both have beneficial roles, improving our immune systems and helping produce food, respectively.
The species of yeast responsible for causing yeast infections is a strain called Candida albicans, which can lead to an overgrowth known as candidiasis. All strains of yeast are types of fungi, which technically arenít plants at all because they donít use chlorophyll (a type of energy that plants use from the sun in order to grow). Yeast and fungi are also unique and different from plants because they can actually make their own food, which is precisely how they multiply and spread within the body. (2)
Vaginal yeast infections (also known as vaginal candidiasis, vulvovaginal candidiasis or candidal vulvovaginitis) are caused by the candid fungus. They are a type of vaginitis, which means inflammation or infection of the vagina. Vaginal yeast infections that keep coming back are known as recurrent vulvovaginal candidiasis (RVVC). While there are a number of different health conditions that are categorized together under the broad term of vaginitis (including bacterial vaginosis, trichomoniasis and non-infectious vaginitis), vaginal yeast infections are the most common type. (3)
Some women struggle with chronic vulvar pain known as vulvodynia. While this condition can be aggravated by yeast infections, and is sometimes mistaken for a yeast infection, it is a different condition that causes redness and burning of the vulva. The cause of vulvodynia is not well-understood, but there are treatment options available.
Vaginal Yeast Infection Symptoms
Yeast infections of all kinds tend to develop in areas of the body where conditions are most favorable for yeast and mold to reproduce easily. Yeast and fungus thrive in moist conditions, so damp ìfoldsî of the body (think areas where you sweat a lot) are usually more prone to infections and outbreaks, including: (4)
the mouth and throat
navel (belly button)
nasal cavity and around the nose
within the ears
fingernails and toenails
in between fingers and toes
When yeast overgrows in the vagina, symptoms of a vaginal yeast infection can develop, including:
vaginal itching (sometimes very uncomfortable and severe)
vaginal discharge thatís white, thick, clumpy and odorless (while not pleasant to visualize, some people describe it as looking like cottage or ricotta cheese)
irritated skin around the opening to the vagina (vulva and labia), redness and swelling
vaginal pain, especially during intercourse or during menstruation
pain when going to the bathroom or when urinating
sometimes a slight smell thatís unusual
Usually, yeast infections are obvious and somewhat uncomfortable, especially if left untreated, and the symptoms continue to worsen. However, some people donít realize they have a vaginal yeast infection or mistake it for another problem, like a urinary tract infection, side effects from birth control pills or irregular periods, or a sexually transmitted disease, for example.
When candida yeast multiplies, itís capable of spreading to different parts of the body and causing all types of problems. Just like you can experience a vaginal yeast infection caused by overgrowth of Candida albicans in the genitals, ìcandida virusî can take over your digestive system too. This is like a form of an internal digestive yeast infection and causes symptoms such as fatigue, digestive upset, changes in appetite or food cravings.
Vaginal yeast infection symptoms - Dr. Axe
How to Treat Vaginal Yeast Infections
1. Keep Your Skin Clean and Dry
Yeast can only multiply to harmful levels when the conditions are just right. The best way to stop yeast from spreading is to keep your skin clean, dry and free from scrapes or wounds. Practicing good hygiene and taking care of any open cuts properly helps prevent infections, whether in the vagina, digestive tract, mouth or elsewhere. (5)
Make sure to wash the genital area with soap every day and dry off the area well after showering, since fungi are most commonly found in moist environments (which is exactly why they can thrive in leftover foods and damp areas outdoors, such as soil). When you go to the bathroom, you can decrease the risk for spreading germs by wiping from front to back (from vagina to your anus, instead of the other way around).
Following sexual intercourse, make sure to wash the genital area. Itís possible to spread yeast infections during sex from person to person, and even though women are much more likely to carry yeast infections, men (especially men who are uncircumcised) can develop yeast infections in the genital area too. (6) Always practice safe sex by using condoms, and abstain from sex altogether if you or your partner have an active infection.
2. Wear Clean Clothes
Make sure to wear clean underwear and, ideally, choose cotton underwear or another breathable fabric. Allowing air to reach your genitals helps stop moisture and warmth from developing, which worsens yeast growth. (7)
You might also want to wear looser-fitting clothes and avoid stockings, tights or bathing suits if youíre prone to getting infections since these all increase body heat and retain moisture. When you do wear a bathing suit, try not to stay in one for too many hours, especially if the suit is wet or dirty.
3. Boost Your Immune System with a Nutrient-Rich Diet and Probiotics
A diet that boosts your immune system can help your body stay in tip-top shape, greatly reducing the risk of an infection since an increase in protective white blood cells is able to target the problem before it worsens. This is the reason why a weakened immune system is one of the significant risk factors for recurring yeast infections. People with viruses like HIV, or autoimmune disorders, diabetes or cancer are all prone to developing infections more often.
Support your immune system by eating a nutrient-dense diet, especially one high in vegetables, healthy fats (including antimicrobial coconut oil), probiotics and quality sources of protein. Probiotic foods (including kinds that contain bacteria such as lactobacillus or acidophilus) are beneficial for fighting infections of all kinds and proven to be beneficial for yeast infections. (8)
Fermented foods ó including dairy products like kefir or yogurt, kombucha and veggies ó all contain probiotic microflora that help to protect the intestines, improve the immune system and fight yeast. Probiotics are ìgood bugsî that compete with harmful pathogens in the body. The good kind of bacteria that live within your body and on your skin basically compete with candida yeast for available sources of ìfuel.î Luckily, good bacteria are usually stronger than the yeast cells and therefore they can cut off the life supply of the yeast or fungi.
When it comes to your diet, make sure to control your blood sugar since high levels of sugar feed candida yeast growth. (9) Some people with candida overgrowth need to eliminate nearly all sources of sugar, at least for some time, while the condition clears up. This includes most processed foods or snacks, alcohol, most grains (especially refined grain products), conventional dairy products, and even fruit and starchy veggies in some cases.
It might take some trial and error to get the diet right since everyone reacts a bit differently. A positive side effect is that following a diet aimed at getting rid of yeast and candida can also provide beneficial bacteria, regulate your appetite, and reduce your cravings for refined carbohydrates and sugars.
4. Rule Out Allergies
Sometimes allergies to condoms/latex, soaps or other hygiene products such as bath oils, tampons, spermicidal jelly or douches can cause allergies and infections. Chemical products are irritating to the sensitive genital area and can negatively impact the balance of bacteria in your vagina. If youíve recently started using new products and notice infections taking place, try switching up your products and use something more natural instead.
Also be careful about using products that cause vaginal irritation, such as those with chemical dyes, fragrances and other harsh ingredients. Avoid these potential yeast infection causes if possible. Luckily, there are usually readily available alternatives. For example, if tampons tend to cause infections, try using pads instead and always avoid fragrance-sprayed/deodorant tampons or feminine products.
Another word about douching ó not only can douching cause allergic reactions, it can also alter the natural balance of good and bacteria within a womanís vagina. This in turn can create an environment that allows candida to flourish, resulting in a yeast infection. Douching can also lead to other health concerns, such as pelvic inflammatory disease, bacterial vaginosis, pregnancy complications and cervical cancer. There is no evidence that douching provides any real health or cleansing benefits.The body naturally cleanses itself and douches often cause more harm than good. For all of these reasons, I donít recommend douching. (10)
5. Consider Other Medical or Hormonal Problems
Certain pre-existing medical conditions can increase your susceptibility to vaginal yeast infections because they alter bacterial and chemical balances within your body. Two examples are hormonal imbalances (including kinds that cause high estrogen or progesterone levels) and Type 2 diabetes. (11)
Youíre probably aware that diabetes is a condition in which blood sugar levels play a significant role, but did you know that sugar also fuels candida yeast growth? If you eat a diet high in sugar, or donít manage your blood sugar properly, you give yeast more fuel to multiply.
When it comes to hormones, the female sex hormone progesterone can increase yeast infections in the vaginal area because it increases the production of glycogen, a natural starch thatís converted into sugar easily. Yeast can thrive off of these starch molecules, and because women have naturally higher progesterone levels than men, theyíre more susceptible to yeast overgrowth.
Men can develop yeast infections too. But female sex hormones make them much more likely, especially when hormones are significantly elevated during the second half of the menstrual cycle, during menopause, when a woman is taking birth control or when a woman is pregnant. (12)
6. Fight Yeast with Supplements and Essential Oils
Certain supplements and essential oils are beneficial for stopping yeast in its tracks, including:
Probiotic supplements: one of the best natural treatments for yeast infections because they replenish good bacteria
Apple cider vinegar: helps balance pH levels
Elderberry and milk thistle: help cleanse your liver from prescription medications and hormones from birth control pills
Boric acid: a safe alternative to some prescription medications for the treatment of recurrent yeast infections
Antioxidants: antioxidants, including vitamin C, help boost the immune system
Essential oils: tea tree, lavender and myrrh oils are gentle yet help kill a variety of yeast, parasites and fungi; use several drops mixed with coconut oil topically just outside of the vaginal area.
Vaginal yeast infection treatment - Dr. Axe
The Real Underlying Causes of Vaginal Yeast Infections
At any given time, many millions of yeast live within, and on the surface of, your body. Itís estimated that among these microorganisms, several hundred different types of yeast exist, which take up residence mostly in damp places throughout the body. While most yeast pose no threat at all to your health, a small percentage of yeast cultures are potentially harmful and capable of causing infections.
While common species of yeast especially thrive in places like the mouth, throat, nose, intestines and armpits, if you were to look under a microscope, youíd find that theyíre always present all over the body and on the skin of most humans and animals. Yeast also live within our digestive systems, specifically in the internal lining of the bowel.
This is completely normal and, in fact, beneficial in some ways, since certain types of yeast help ensure that we have regular, normal poop! This is even true of candida yeast, which we all have in amounts that normally donít cause any trouble when they donít multiply rapidly and begin to crowd out other bacteria and microbes. (13)
So where do things go wrong, and how does an infection develop?
In the case of vaginal yeast infections, Candida albicans yeast first attaches itself to newborn babies right when theyíre born, after coming into contact with the yeast from the mother. Normally, this happens right at the time of birth or, in some cases, shortly after. By the time a baby is about 6 months old, thereís a 90 percent chance that Candida albicans is present in his/her system.
Candida yeast is usually harmless at this point, and although a newbornís immune system isnít very developed yet, itís still able to function normally and prevent the yeast from growing too much. In a small percentage of cases, a baby isnít strong enough yet to control the yeast. This is why some infants experience yeast infections known as oral thrush.
When someone has a strong immune system that works properly, sheís able to maintain a balance between all different strains of microbes, allowing them to fight candida the natural way and stay healthy before a problem starts.
ìGood bacteriaî are capable of balancing ìbad bacteria,î which means you remain free of infections, digestive disorders and so on. For example, one common strain of bacteria called Lactobacillus acidophilus is present within the vagina normally, helping keep other organisms, including yeast, from taking over.
However, this delicate balance can easily become upset when yeast begins to rapidly grow and take over. This can happen after taking antibiotics (which wipe out some of the good bacteria); because of hormonal imbalances; during pregnancy or due to certain conditions that make it easier for yeast to grow. Candida albicans and other types of yeast are basically on constant watch for sources of nutrition so they can thrive and reproduce, and one source of nutrition that feeds them best is bacteria within your body.
Within the body, itís almost as if yeast organisms can speak to one another and let the whole group know when a nutrition source is available, which makes the yeast gravitate toward that source so it can feed on it and multiply quickly. To keep on building and growing their colony, yeast and fungi secrete hydrolytic enzymes as a way of turning indigestible matter within the body into usable food (just like humans do, in a sense!). As more yeast build up in one area, a type of mold is formed that has the potential to cause yeast infections.
The odds of developing a vaginal yeast infection are highest: (14)
following antibiotic treatments
during pregnancy (due to high female sex hormone levels)
when someone has a hormonal imbalance, uses hormone therapy or takes birth control pills
following sexual intercourse
when someone has an impaired immune system (for example, because of an autoimmune disorder or a virus like HIV)
around the time of a womanís menstrual cycle (infections are more likely to occur during the week before a menstrual period or after a womanís period, especially if she uses tampons)
in people who have diabetes thatís uncontrolled
due to poor hygiene, including dirty skin or wearing damp, dirty clothes
How Do You Know If Itís a Vaginal Yeast Infection?
Vaginal yeast infection symptoms can be mistaken for other health problems, so if itís your first time having one and youíre not 100 percent sure of the cause of your symptoms, you might want to talk to your doctor. There are at least six other conditions and diseases that can be mistaken for a vaginal yeast infection. These include: (15)
Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) such as chlamydia, trichomoniasis, herpes, and genital warts. These infections can cause vaginal odor and an itchy discharge
Allergic reactions to feminine hygiene products, soap or even a new laundry detergent.
Lack of estrogen causes the skin to thin, resulting in vaginal dryness and itching.
Hemorrhoids may also cause itching in the vaginal area
Other skin conditions
Your doctor can rule out other types of infections or disorders and give you a diagnosis.
If youíre familiar with the symptoms of a vaginal yeast infection already, then you can easily treat the condition at home on your own. Keep in mind that around the time of your period, youíre more likely to get a yeast infection because menstrual blood can increase pH levels within the vagina and alter hormone levels, allowing for yeast to multiply more quickly. Sometimes getting your period can resolve a yeast infection, but not always. Either way, itís usually OK to wait a couple days before seeing a doctor if you suspect a problem. But donít wait more than a week if symptoms donít go away. If you experience unexpected bleeding, see your doctor right away.
Your doctor will need to perform a pelvic exam. He or she also might decide to run blood or culture tests to diagnose a yeast infection. Then the doctor may give you a prescription for an oral antifungal medicine such as fluconazole (brand name: Diflucan). Or your doctor might recommend an over-the-counter (OTC) cream to fight the infection. (16) If you decide to fight the infection on your own, chances are youíll purchase a home kit from a drug store. Today, there are dozens of OTC treatments, including suppositories, antifungal creams and ointments available in stores. While some prescriptions can be helpful for stopping reoccurring infections, ultimately most creams reduce symptoms without addressing the root cause. (17)
The way that yeast infections work is by yeast burrowing their ìhyphaeî deep under your skin or inside your body, which allows them to soak up nutrients and continue to survive. So if you only put creams and ointments on the surface of your skin, youíre missing a large percentage of the yeast that multiplies below, deeper within in your body. This is one of the reasons that some women have different forms of vaginitis and vaginal yeast infections over and over ó because they donít target all of the yeast and cut off its life supply.
Another recommendation from your doctor might be to take antibiotics; however, these also come with some risks. Avoid unnecessary use of antibiotics whenever you can, since they can wind up killing off good bacteria, in addition to bad bacteria, and lead to antibiotic resistance if overused. Once good bacteria are eliminated, itís easier for yeast to grow in the future, and it also sets the stage for other infections to form since even a small amount of bad bacteria can easily multiply when uncontrolled.