Yeast infection treatments: everything you need to know
- Yeast infections are itchy, uncomfortable and can even be painful. The good news? They’re easily treatable with the right medication.
- Yeast infection medications are available in creams, oral tablets and vaginal suppositories. In most cases, they begin working within just a few days.
- If symptoms like itching, redness or swelling are taking a toll on your day to day, a hassle-free online consultation with Dr. B can get you the right treatment without the waiting room.
What is a yeast infection?
A yeast infection is a common type of fungal infection that stems from a bacterial imbalance. Areas like the vagina naturally have a healthy balance of yeast and bacteria. When this balance is upset, a type of yeast called Candida can grow unchecked, resulting in symptoms such as itching and irritation in the vaginal area or a thick, white vaginal discharge.
Learn more about yeast infection symptoms.
Vaginal yeast infections, also known as vulvovaginal candidiasis or vaginal candidiasis, are extremely common, affecting an estimated 75% of women. Less commonly, they can also affect areas like the male genitalia, the skin and the mouth or throat, also known as “thrush.”
Yeast infections can happen to anyone at any time, but factors like being pregnant, taking birth control pills, having uncontrolled diabetes or being immunocompromised can make them more likely to occur.
Luckily, getting over a yeast infection and on with your life is fairly straightforward—here’s the scoop on yeast infection treatments.
Can a yeast infection go away on its own?
In some cases, a mild yeast infection may go away on its own—but don’t assume it will. Most require treatment, and not doing so can worsen symptoms, lead to a more severe infection or increase your risk of future infections.
Yeast infection treatments
For most people, treating a yeast infection is a matter of taking a pill or applying a cream, which can be over-the-counter or prescription. Available in creams, oral tablets and vaginal suppositories, yeast infection medications are categorized as antifungals, meaning they eliminate or prevent the growth of fungi.
Antibiotics—different from antifungals—are not usually recommended for yeast infections, as they can kill too much of the healthy bacteria that exists in the vagina.
Side effects from yeast infection treatments are usually mild, but can include:
- Vaginal burning or itching
- Stomach cramps
In rare cases, yeast infection medications can cause liver disease. Seek medical help if you experience symptoms such as irregular heartbeat, continuous vomiting, yellowing eyes or skin or dark urine.
Be sure to take the full course of medication as prescribed, even if your symptoms improve.
If you’re suffering from recurrent yeast infections, it’s best to speak to a gynecologist. You may require a different kind of treatment or have an underlying medical issue that needs to be addressed.
Home remedies for yeast infection
When treating a yeast infection, it’s recommended to seek out proven treatments over DIY solutions—though home remedies may improve symptoms in mild cases.
Because home remedies have not been evaluated to the same extent as established treatments, it’s best to use them in conjunction with medical treatments or to help prevent future yeast infections.
Home remedies for yeast infections include:
- Eating yogurt: Probiotic foods containing live bacteria—such as plain Greek yogurt—help expand your microbiome and control yeast levels.
- Boric acid: Applied in a vaginal suppository, boric acid is a natural compound and antiseptic agent that has been found to have antifungal properties.
- Tea tree oil: The popular essential oil is an antifungal substance that has been shown to fight Candida albicans. It is usually applied via suppository.
- Apple cider vinegar: Adding half a cup of apple cider vinegar to a lukewarm bath can help eliminate yeast and other infection-causing microorganisms.
The bottom line: The only proven way to cure a yeast infection is by taking the right medication. If symptoms are getting in your way, talk to a medical provider.
How to prevent a yeast infection
It’s not always possible to prevent a yeast infection—they can happen at any time for any reason—but there are some steps you can take to reduce your odds.
Here are some ways to prevent vaginal yeast infection:
- Limit your time in baths or hot tubs: Yeast and bacteria thrive in hot, damp environments.
- Change out of wet clothes: Put on dry clothes as soon as possible after a swim or a sweaty workout.
- Wear loose clothing: Choose breathable clothing—particularly cotton underwear—that’s less likely to hold moisture and heat.
- Avoid douches or feminine sprays: It’s recommended to clean your vaginal area with just warm water and skip cleaning products that can remove too much bacteria.
- Limit your use of antibiotics: Use antibiotics only when you need them; overuse can cause antibiotic resistance and lead to more infections.
Get effective treatment, right from home
Looking for a convenient way to access the yeast infection treatment that’s right for you?
Dr. B treats yeast infections with oral tablets (Fluconazole and its brand equivalent, Diflucan) and vaginal suppositories (Miconazole and Terconazole)—both proven prescription medications used to get rid of your yeast infection with minimal side effects.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2013). Vulvovaginal Candidiasis (VVC).