Yeast Infection or Fungal Infection: Types, Causes and Treatment
The moment you think of the word fungus what actually comes to your mind? Mushrooms? Well, mushrooms are one type of fungi and so as is the yeast! The fungus is basically a type of germ that lives on our body where there is more of warmth & moisture. Armpits, vagina are the most prone areas for fungal infections. These infections are harmless because they rarely spread below the skin and they are also easy to treat. We are now going to focus on yeast fungal infection which is very common in the vaginal region.
What is a vaginal yeast infection?
Yeast is a fungus that normally grows in the vagina in small numbers. It turns into a vaginal yeast infection when a large number of yeast cells are growing in the vaginal region. It may cause a lot of irritation but they are actually harmless and the treatment is simple as well!
What causes a vaginal yeast infection?
Candida albicans are the major cause for most of the fungal infections. A healthy vagina will have a large number of bacteria and a small number of yeast cells. The most common bacteria Lactobacillus acidophilus helps to keep micro-organisms like yeast under control.
When something changes the balance of these organisms, the yeast begins to grow in large numbers thereby causing infections. The most common causes are as follows;
- Taking antibiotics may cause imbalance in these organisms
- High levels of estrogen caused by pregnancy or hormone therapy
- Diabetes or HIV infection may also lead to yeast infections.
What are the prominent symptoms?
A yeast infection may cause itching or soreness in the vaginal region. There may also be pain or burning sensation when you urinate or have sex. Some women may also develop thick, white discharge which has no odor.
All these symptoms are more prominent during a week before your menstrual cycle.
How can it be treated?
If you already have had a vaginal infection and you are well aware of the symptoms then you can treat yourself at home with medicines even without a prescription, provided you are not pregnant.
- You can use an antifungal cream or a suppository that you have to apply it on the vagina.
- You can also use antifungal tablets which you will have to just swallow.
These infections are more common during the pregnancy and if you are pregnant you are advised to consult a doctor before taking medications on your own!
If you notice that you are affected by these infections more often, say 4 times a year then you will have to consult a doctor. He or she may perform some tests to see if it is caused by other health issues such as diabetes.
Here are some ways to prevent a vaginal yeast infection:
- Ensure your vaginal area is kept clean. Use mild, unscented soaps and rinse well.
- Prefer cotton underwear as it can absorb moisture and keeps your genital area dry.
- Avoid tight-fitting clothing such as tight jeans as this will increase the body heat and moisture.
- Change pads for every 5 hours, as that moisture content may lead to fungal growth.
What natural alternative treatments are available?
You can also treat vaginal infections naturally if you would like to avoid medications. Some natural remedies include:
- Coconut oil
- Tea tree oil cream
- Plain yogurt taken orally or inserted into the vagina
Make sure your hands are clean and free from germs before you apply creams onto the vagina. A healthy eating habit can also reduce the risk of vaginal infections.
If all the remedies fail, you should consult a dermatologist or gynaecologist to get anti fungal medicines prescribed. Proper dose of such medication can cure the fungal infection in a short span of time.