The realisation that you may have developed a yeast infection is always disconcerting. Not only can this type of infection be extremely uncomfortable, but it can also feel difficult to talk about openly with your doctor or pharmacist. Yet it is something that around 75 percent of women, and many men, will experience at some point in their lives.
Fortunately, most yeast infections are straightforward to treat, and can be cleared up in a matter of days. Many remedies can even provide significant relief from symptoms within the first 24 hours. Just keep in mind that, as with any medical condition, it is worth notifying your doctor, even if you treat the problem yourself. This keeps them up to date with your general health, and enables them to reassure you that you have successfully cleared the infection. We also have a review of Dr. Bakker’s ebook called Candida Crusher that goes in preventative methods and how to wipe out Candida for good.
What Is A Yeast Infection?
As you may already know, a yeast infection, or candidiasis, is a fairly common fungal infection, which can be caused by a variety of pathogenic yeasts, with candida albicans being one of the more common culprits.
Candida yeasts are part of your natural intestinal microflora, and may even be found on the skin, or other areas of the body, without causing any adverse symptoms. They are kept in check by your immune system, and competition with other organisms, such as bacteria. However, in the right conditions, Candida may quickly overproliferate, which can trigger an infection.
Candidiasis affects both men and women, and is not limited to the genital areas, but can also present as an oral infection, or even affect the skin, or the gastrointestinal tract. Most cases are mild and easily remedied. However, if left untreated, or if a species of Candida enters your bloodstream, it can have more severe health implications. As such, it is important to identify and treat these infections as quickly and effectively as possible, both for the sake of your comfort, and for your general health and wellbeing.
Knowing the Symptoms
A yeast infection is generally characterised by itching, and general discomfort. However, its symptoms are easily confused with a number of other conditions, so if in doubt, it is always sensible to seek the opinion of a medical professional.
On the skin, candidiasis presents as a rash, which may become itchy, red, and cracked. It is most commonly found in areas where skin is folded, such as armpits and knees. Keep in mind that rashes can have a wide range of causes. Fortunately, your doctor should be able to identify the rash for you and advise the best course of action to take.
Oral candidiasis, often called ‘thrush’, can usually be identified by the presence of white patches on your tongue, the roof of your mouth, or your inner cheeks. The infection may also affect your throat or esophagus, making it difficult and painful to swallow.
Genital candidiasis causes itching and soreness around the affected area, and may also cause pain during urination or intercourse. The area may also appear red or inflamed. Women experiencing a yeast infection may also notice abnormal vaginal discharge. This will appear thick and white, resembling something similar to curds or cottage cheese.
However, other conditions can present similar symptoms, so it’s worth contacting a medical professional to verify that you are dealing with a yeast infection before you take steps to treat it. For example, it may be that you’ve had an adverse reaction to something, such as new underwear, or a change in laundry detergent.
If so, you may be able to stop the itch simply by removing the irritant. If you have made any recent changes to your routine, consider whether they might be responsible. You might find that the solution is even quicker and easier than you had anticipated.
How To Treat a Yeast Infection
If your aim is to be rid of your yeast infection as quickly as possible, then your best option is likely to be an over-the-counter antifungal medication. This is likely to come in the form of a topical cream, such as Clotrimazole, or a single-dose oral medication such as Fluconazole.
For most mild yeast infections, these treatments provide rapid relief, although you are likely to be advised to continue using the cream for the duration of your prescription, to ensure that the infection has cleared completely. If you are prescribed the oral medication, you may be given a second dose after three days if the infection is severe.
While it is possible to purchase varieties of these medications without a prescription, it is important to be sure you are treating the correct condition. If in doubt, get in touch with your doctor first.
Probiotics can have a range of potential benefits, although it’s worth remembering that it’s not a one-size-fits-all remedy; different varieties of probiotics have different functions. In general, the go-to treatment for yeast infections is live yoghurt, as it is thought that the application of Lactobacilli may help to restore the balance of microflora within the urogenital region.
The general consensus is that eating live yoghurt may help to clear a yeast infection, and even prevent its recurrence. In addition, some remedies advocate direct application of the yoghurt to the affected area, or alternatively, promote the use of probiotic suppositories.
There is not enough clinical evidence as yet to recommend this approach over the application of antifungal medications. However, it is likely to be the safest of the alternative options, as probiotics already occur within a normal digestive system. Even so, you should take care to select a variety with clearly-stated ingredients, and keep your doctor informed of any home remedies you use.
A variety of other suppositories and pessaries have been suggested to be helpful for reducing the discomfort of a yeast infection, but many of these come with the risk of severely exacerbating the situation. These include garlic, tea tree oil, and boric acid capsules. These products are selected for their anti-fungal properties. However, they can also cause irritation and damage to your skin if improperly applied. Before using any form of suppository, you should seek advice from a medical professional.
Causes and Prevention
In general, yeast infections are more prevalent in women, but not uncommon in men. The chances of developing candidiasis also appear to be increased in individuals who are pregnant, or who have a weakened immune system, as well as individuals with diabetes, or who use hormonal contraceptives.
These pathogenic yeasts, such as candida albicans, thrive in warm, moist areas, where they can grow, undisturbed. As such, wearing garments that are too tight, neglecting to change out of wet clothes, such as swimsuits or wetsuits, and wearing synthetic underwear can all be factors in the development of a yeast infection. Similarly, anything that disturbs the natural flora and pH balance of the affected area can also promote infection.This includes vaginal sprays, douching, and even perfumed soaps.
So while it may be fairly straightforward to clear a yeast infection, prevention will always be better than a cure. Some steps you can take to protect yourself from future infections include the following:
- Eating foods that are rich in probiotics, such as yoghurt, sauerkraut, or gherkins.
- Reducing your sugar intake, as yeast uses sugar as a food source.
- Avoiding tight-fitting clothing and synthetic underwear. Cotton is more breathable, and looser clothes will help to reduce the chance of creating a warm environment in which Candida can thrive.
- Steering clear of douches, perfumed soaps, and genital sprays or lotions.
- Showering after intercourse, and always changing out of wet clothes as soon as possible. You should also take care to dry off thoroughly, particularly around the genital area.
Finally, if you suffer from frequent reinfection, or your symptoms do not clear up even with treatment, you should speak to your doctor as soon as possible, so they can help you find a more effective solution. Infections that recur four or more times within the space of a year are considered chronic, and may require a different approach.
You should also keep in mind that the symptoms of a yeast infection are easily confused with other conditions, such as contact dermatitis, and bacterial vaginosis. But whatever the case, your doctor should be able to identify the source of your discomfort, and ensure that you are using the correct treatment for your condition. So don’t be afraid to seek their advice if you have any concerns; it’s far better to get a definitive answer from a professional, than to hope for the best and risk prolonging the problem.