Yeast infections are caused by the Candida genus of yeasts (a single-cell fungus), most often Candida albicans.
Though this colonization doesn’t cause symptoms, symptomatic yeast infections can develop when the balance of microbial communities within the body gets thrown off by things like medication (antibiotics, in particular), hormonal changes, and the overuse of feminine hygiene products.
Over the counter yeast infection treatments do exist. They can be purchased over-the-counter (OTC) or with a prescription, and take the form of an antifungal cream, ointment, suppository, or medicated tampon. An oral tablet is also available.
Prescribed medication may also come with additional prescription drugs to help treat your symptoms, such as steroids to relieve inflammation of the opening of the vagina.
Treatments last one, three, or seven days, all of which are equally effective. Unless you have an allergic reaction to the medication, side effects are generally mild.
You should not use tampons while using suppositories and creams. You should also avoid condoms and diaphragms because the yeast infection medicines contain oil, which can degrade the contraceptives.
Lifestyle Changes That Support Medical Yeast Infection Treatment
While taking yeast infection medication, certain lifestyle changes can help relieve symptoms and prevent worsening symptoms. These include:
- Keeping your genital area clean and dry
- Avoiding douching and using scented feminine sprays, fragrances, or powders, which can affect the microbial balance of the vagina (and potentially promote yeast growth)
- Wearing loose-fitting underwear, pants, or shorts to prevent irritation and sweating, which can lead to the growth of more yeast
- Promptly changing out of wet bathing suits or exercise clothing, and washing sweat-covered or wet clothes after each use
Popular Home Remedies for Vaginal Yeast Infections
Despite the effectiveness of prescription and OTC treatments, some people may choose to try home remedies for yeast infections, including:
- Probiotic yogurt and supplements
- Boric acid suppositories
- Tea tree oil
- Douching (especially with vinegar)
But not all home remedies are backed up by clinical trials, and thus have not been proven effective against yeast infections.
Boric acid suppositories, at the very least, might be effective against yeast infections, in particular those caused by nonalbicans Candida species.
Yogurt and supplements containing Lactobacillus — “good” bacteria common in the vagina and elsewhere — are thought to help treat and prevent yeast infections. But evidence for the bacteria’s helpfulness is inconsistent.