Thrush: treatments and remedies

Probably the most common fungal infection, thrush, or candidiasis, is caused by the yeast organism Candida albicans. It usually occurs in the vagina but can also appear in the mouth and in damp skin folds.

 

Couples may also pass a yeast infection back and forth during sex. If you have a vaginal yeast infection, be sure your partner isn’t also infected, which most often happens in uncircumcised men.

  • Infections in both men and women can be easily treated with over-the-counter creams, such as Canestan. Applying natural yogurt can also relieve the pain.
  • Sprinkle a cup of sea salt into a warm bath, stir the water around until the salt dissolves and have a long soak. You can do this every day, as long as it helps to relieve itching and pain. The saltwater soak also speeds up healing. Rinsing with a saltwater solution can be useful for treating oral thrush, too.
  • Try a herbal rinse. Make a strong tea using 2 teaspoons each of dried thyme and sage and 250ml boiling water. Steep for 15 minutes and strain. Use the cooled liquid as a soothing vaginal wash. Both thyme and sage have antimicrobial and antibacterial properties and help to fight the infections while also soothing the irritated skin tissues.

Prevent thrush

  • Contrary to popular belief, a diet high in carbohydrates or sugar does not increase your risk of a yeast infection. There’s no benefit to be gained from eating a yeast-free diet, either. The yeast that is used in breadmaking is not the same type as that responsible for yeast infections.
  • Go without underwear at night. As yeast flourishes in warm, moist environments, the ventilation will help you to avoid infection. During the day, go without underwear, too, whenever you can. Otherwise, choose cotton underwear, which will allow better air circulation than synthetic fabrics.
  • For the same reason, avoid tight trousers.
  • Don’t stay in a wet swimming costume after swimming. Shower promptly and change into dry clothes.
  • Use a hair dryer on its cool setting to dry the external vaginal area completely after a bath or a swim.
  • Keep away from scented tampons, feminine deodorants and douches. Chemicals in fragrances can upset the delicate environment in the vagina and allow yeast to take over. Ensure any tampons you use are pure cotton, as ‘super-absorbent’ synthetic fabrics will slow natural fluid production and leave the area open to fungal and bacterial invasion. By the same token, avoid scented and/or coloured toilet paper, as the artificial dyes and fragrances can irritate the skin.
  • Also, avoid perfumed talc. Some women find that powder irritates the skin and this additional irritation makes them more prone to yeast infections.
  • Go to the toilet before and after sexual intercourse. Vaginal mucous membranes are normally slightly acidic, but semen is alkaline, making it friendlier to yeast. Passing urine will help to make the area less inviting to infectious growth.

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