When you have a fungal infection, your first thought is probably: "Ah, itching!" Your second? "How do I get rid of this as quickly as humanly possible?"
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A quick search on the Internet invokes a treasure of fashionable home remedies for fungal infections, from apple cider vinegar ("ACV" to those who know) to essential oils. But are these treatments really effective, or even safe?
Ob / Gyn Kathryn Goebel, MD, shares her advice to keep beasts at bay.
Effective ways to treat a yeast infection
From good to early, Dr. Goebel detects a problem with the treatment of fungal infections at home. "The biggest problem is that the self-diagnosis of fungal infections is not very accurate, especially if you haven't had one before," she says.
Bacterial infections, allergic reactions and some skin conditions can cause similar symptoms, so it is important for a doctor to confirm your diagnosis.
What if you have had fungal infections before and there is no doubt what you are trying? Dr. Goebel says his best option is the medication for real yeast infection:
- Fluconazole It is a prescription pill that can treat most fungal infections with a single dose, although the symptoms may take a few days to disappear.
- Miconazole It is an over-the-counter topical cream. It comes in a variety of formulations, which include one-day, three-day and seven-day options. The cream may be a bit messy, but it can also relieve itching faster than oral fluconazole, she says.
DIY Yeast Infection Prevention
Some unfortunate women get recurrent yeast infections, which means they can deal with the symptoms four or more times a year. If it's you, the idea of sitting in an apple cider vinegar bath might not sound so far-fetched.
What works and what should you avoid? Dr. Goebel shares what she should and should not do to treat and prevent fungal infections.
- DO good hygiene. "Take a shower after exercise, avoid very tight clothes, do not sit in a wet bathing suit and do not wear a slipper protector every day as it can trap moisture," she says.
- Pamper your skin. If you have external irritation on the vulva, the application of thick ointments such as Vaseline® and Aquaphor® can provide a barrier against yeast and reduce itching.
- Maybe I consider probiotics. Probiotics contain healthy bacteria, which can help keep yeast levels in balance. Unfortunately, says Dr. Goebel, there is no big data on whether eating food or supplements with probiotics makes a big difference for fungal infections. But for most people, there is nothing wrong with trying. Look for lactobacillus, the bacteria found in healthy vaginal flora. You will find it in yogurt and kefir with live active cultures, or in the form of a tablet or pill.
- DO NOT put yogurt anywhere other than your mouth. Some women insert yogurt (made with lactobacillus) vaginally, but Dr. Goebel recommends not doing so. Even unsweetened yogurt has natural sugars, which can boost yeast growth and make things worse.
- DO NOT trust vinegar. The idea is that adding vinegar to your bath can reduce vaginal pH, making yeast less likely to grow. But there is little evidence that it works, and it can cause burning or irritation. And definitely skip a more direct application. "Outdated vinegar showers alter healthy natural bacteria and increase the risk of infections," says Dr. Goebel.
- DO NOT confuse your vagina with a medicine cabinet, or a kitchen cabinet. The Internet could tell you that introducing things like suppositories from tea tree oil, coconut oil or garlic into the vagina can help eliminate overgrowth of yeast. But there is no solid evidence of these DIY treatments, says Dr. Goebel, and there is a decent possibility that it causes burning and irritation (not to mention the missing pieces of garlic). "Most of it does not work, and much will cause problems," he adds.
If you are dying to follow the latest trend, buy new boots or dye your hair pink. When it comes to treating fungal infections, your best option is to try it.