Yeast is a type of fungus. Yeast infections are caused by overgrowth of the fungus Candida albicans. Small amounts of yeast are always in the vagina. But when too much yeast grows, you can get an infection.
Yeast infections are very common. About 75 percent of women have one during their lives. And almost half of women have two or more vaginal yeast infections.
Signs and Symptoms of Vaginal Yeast Infection
The most common symptom of a vaginal yeast infection is extreme itchiness in and around the vagina. Other symptoms include:
- burning, redness, and swelling of the vagina and the vulva
- pain when passing urine
- pain during sex
- a thick, white vaginal discharge that looks like cottage cheese and does not have a bad smell
- a rash on the vagina
Note: You may only have a few of these symptoms. They may be mild or severe. The signs of a vaginal yeast infection are much like those of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) like Chlamydia (KLUH-mid-ee-uh) and gonorrhea (gahn-uh-REE-uh). So, it’s hard to be sure you have a yeast infection and not something more serious. Always consult your doctor for medical advice.
Home Treatment for Vaginal Yeast Infection
- A bacterial or non-specific infection may go away by itself in three to four days.
- Avoid intercourse to irritated vaginal tissues time to heal.
- Avoid scratching. Relieve itching with cold water compresses.
- Boil your underpants or soak them in bleach for 24 hours prior to reuse to kill the candida and wash with unscented soap before wearing.
- Iron your underpants before wearing them because candida can die when panties are touched with a hot iron.
- Wear loose clothing. Yeast thrives in a warm, damp atmosphere, one of the best preventive measures you can take against this fungus is to keep your vaginal area ventilated—that is, cool and dry.
- Avoid douches, contraceptive jellies, foams and sprays, yeast-killing tablets, and feminine deodorants.
- One alternative to douching is the sitz bath. Fill a shallow tub (just to the hip) with warm water, then do one of the following.
- Add salt (enough to make the water taste salty, about 1/2 cup) to match the body’s natural saline state.
- Add vinegar (1/2 cup) to help rebalance the vaginal pH to 4.5
- Now, sit in the water, knees apart, until it gets cool. The bath will do the cleansing.
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