What is it?
Many people think of Candidiasis or yeast infection as of something invasive or suddenly appeared in the body. What you need to know is than Candida fungus lives in small amounts in the oral cavity, intestines, on the skin, and in the vagina. When the body is healthy the fungus is a part of the natural microflora and is not likely to cause any kind of problems. However, in certain cases, Candida starts uncontrollably growing, which causes the so-called yeast infection or candidiasis – one of the most widespread and annoying fungal infections in humans.
Vaginal yeast infection: symptoms
Many women have to face with candidiasis at least once in a lifetime, some studies say that 3 in 4 women know what it is like. Most commonly, the infection manifests itself by irritation along with severe itching in the genitals: vagina and the vaginal opening.
Other symptoms include:
- The feeling of burning during intercourse, urinating or any physical impact on the genitals;
- Redness and swelling of the outer genitals;
- Thick, sticky, white discharge that resembles cottage cheese, sometimes combined with watery discharge;
- Vaginal rash.
Why does it appear?
Candida Albicans type of fungus is most often the cause of vaginal yeast infections. It is normal to have a balanced mix of fungi and bacteria in the mucus of the vagina. However, sometimes the balance is disturbed: for example, the increased amount of lactobacillus or something similar. As a result, it is followed by rapid yeast overgrowth.
- Other factors causing yeast infections include the intake of antibiotics. By killing bacteria in the body, they may lead to a disrupted balance of the vaginal microflora and excessive growth of fungi.
- Also, candidiasis is a frequently occurring infection during pregnancy due to hormonal shifts.
- Taking oral contraceptives is a risk factor due to the same reason. Increased estrogen levels may cause candidiasis.
- People with immune system disturbances are prone to yeast infection: it may happen as a result of corticosteroid therapy or HIV infection.
- Women with poorly controlled blood sugar levels in case of diabetes are also predisposed to yeast infections.
- Although candidiasis is not a sexually transmitted infection, at least directly, regular sexual activity slightly increases the risks, especially when it comes to oral sex.
These causes are most likely for common yeast infection, but there is also complicated yeast infection, and women should be aware of its symptoms, causes, and consequences.
We are talking about complicated candidiasis, if:
- You notice severe symptoms: unbearable itchiness, redness, and sores;
- The yeast infection episodes occur more than 4 times a year;
- The tests show the infection is caused not by Candida Albicans, but by a less typical fungus type;
- Candidiasis occurs during pregnancy;
- The infection follows uncontrolled diabetes or weakened immunity.
Is it necessary to see your doctor?
Later in this article, we are going to say about yeast infection treatment options, available medications at the Family pharmacy how to take them right, and how to check the effectiveness of the treatment method. First, let’s figure out if it is necessary to book an appointment with your doctor.
We recommend seeing a doctor if the following conditions are true.
- It is the first time you experience such symptoms
- Your symptoms haven’t gone after using over-the-counter medications
- The situation becomes worse.
In order to diagnose candidiasis, doctors usually ask questions about your medical history, like vaginal infections in the past or STIs, they may carry out a pelvic exam to check for the infection signs or test vaginal discharge in order to select a more effective medication for complicated or recurrent candidiasis.
Yeast infection treatment
In other cases, you can start treatment, as most of the anti-fungal medications are available without a prescription and are easy to use. The exact treatment plan depends on the severity of the symptoms and the frequency of the cases.
For infrequent episodes and regular symptoms doctors recommend:
- Short-term local (vaginal) therapy. It is recommended to apply or take antifungal medication for a couple of days (3–7 days). Antifungal medications include creams and ointments, vaginal tablets, or suppositories. The active ingredient used worldwide is miconazole (Monistat 3), and sometimes terconazole. Usually, they can be purchased without prescriptions, but in some countries, you need a doctor’s prescription.
- Single-dose oral drug. To treat candidiasis, you can take a single dose of fluconazole (Diflucan) orally. Be cautious, if you are pregnant. In case of more severe symptoms, you can take 2 single doses – the second one comes after three days.
For frequent episodes and severe symptoms doctors recommend:
- Long-term vaginal therapy. Patients can be prescribed antifungal ointments or creams for daily use up to 14 days. After the intense therapy, the medications are applied once a week for 6 months
- Multi-dose oral drug. Patients with severe symptoms or recurring candidiasis can undergo therapy with 2–3 doses of antifungal medication for oral use instead of vaginal therapy. This type is not recommended for pregnant women.
Prevention of yeast infection
Here are a few tips to help you prevent candidiasis:
- Natural cotton underwear
- Mild hygiene care without vaginal douching
- Odorless feminine products (gels, pads, tampons)
- Not too hot baths and tubs
- Antibiotics only after a doctor’s prescription