Despite advancement in biomedical science to prevent spreading of diseases from vaccination, no one is immune to yeast infections.
Women, in particular, are prone to yeast infections. As a matter of fact, Mayo Clinic reports that three out of four women experience yeast infections at some point in their lives. So if you’ve been infected once, there’s a possibility that you could get another one in the future.
Yeast infection is as common as cough and colds. It can also spread through sexual contact. However, it’s not considered a sexually transmitted infection. It’s also not fatal but the symptoms of yeast infections can cause complications, especially in severe cases, and serious discomfort, such as irritation, itching and swelling in the affected area.
The good news is treating yeast infection is relatively easy, provided that it’s being treated at the early onset of the infection. There are even lots of home remedies you can use to treat an infection. But before we dive in to the remedies, let’s first understand what yeast infection is and what causes it.
This way, you’ll be able understand and learn how to minimize your chances of an infection. After all, prevention is always better than cure.
The Nasty Truth of Yeast
Yeast, not the one you used in baking, is a type of fungus that lives in the vagina. Now before you gross, Candida, which is a fancy scientific term for this yeast genus, living in small quantities in your nether regions is a normal, natural occurrence. It is when this fungus grows out of control that it becomes a problem.
This is when you’ll experience itchiness, burning sensation, redness and extreme discomfort. In some cases, especially when left untreated, yeast infection can cause some cottage-cheese-like and odorless discharges to appear.
One factor that keeps Candida levels in check is your vagina’s pH levels. When they’re normal, it creates an environment for the lactobacillus bacteria, another microorganism that lives down there, to keep Candida from growing out of hand. If your vagina’s pH levels become abnormal, the good bacteria, lactobacillus, will die and infection ensues.
Yeast infection is commonly caused by Candida albicans, a kind of yeast strand. And there are a lot of factors that cause these fungi to grow out of control. Besides having a pH level imbalance, yeast overgrowth is also caused by antibiotics. While they take care of any nasty bacteria lingering inside your body, antibiotics can also kill lactobacillus, or the good bacteria, in your body. This explains why yeast infection is one of the most common side effects of taking antibiotics.
Other causes of yeast overgrowth include pregnancy, diets loaded with sugary foods, hormonal imbalance, stress, compromised immune system, uncontrolled diabetes, and lack of sleep.
If you’re experiencing soreness, rash, pain during sex, burning sensation, itchiness and thick, whitish discharges in your vagina, you probably have a yeast infection, and the causes mentioned above are most likely to blame.
Natural Treatments for Yeast Infection
Yeast infection is easily treatable unless your immune system is compromised such as an HIV infection or diabetes. In this case, you will need to consult with a doctor to help you treat the core illness that’s causing yeast infection.
If you’re in generally in good health and that you’re just having a hormonal imbalance because you’re pregnant or your period is coming, or that you’re just eating way too much ice cream for the past few weeks and you’re not getting enough rest, then you can treat your yeast infection with these home remedies:
1. Apple Cider Vinegar
As you probably guess by now why apple cider vinegar (ACV) is a favorite staple in almost all households is because it contains antibiotic, antifungal, antibacterial and antiviral properties, especially malic acid.
Aside from that, ACV also contains enzymes and friendly bacteria that help balance the pH levels in the body, which in turn stops or inhibits the growth of Candida albicans. In addition to that, the American Diabetes Association reports that apple cider vinegar helps control insulin resistance and glucose. Diabetic patients are prone to yeast infections because of the high-sugar content in the body, creating an ideal environment for yeast to grow. But because ACV can increase insulin sensitivity, sugar levels are managed.
When you use ACV to treat yeast infection, you should always use it in diluted form. To do this, take a cup of warm water and drop two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar. Miss well and drink a cup of solution at least two times a day until you find relief.
Another option is to fill your tub with hot water. Add one to two tablespoons vinegar and soak yourself in it for at least one hour. Make sure that the water is lukewarm so you don’t burn your skin. Doing this can relieve you from itching and irritation.
Remember how it was explained earlier that lactobacillus is the good bacteria that keep Candida at bay? That is the reason yogurt is one of the best home remedies for treating this infection. Yogurt, especially the plain and unsweetened one, contains billions of live lactobacillus, which can stop the growth of yeast. Just make sure to choose a yogurt brand that contains Lactobacillus acidophilus or L. acidophilus.
Increasing your consumption of yogurt can strengthen your good bacteria to inhibit yeast overgrowth. You can also find relief by applying plain yogurt on the affected area and letting it sit for at least 20 minutes before washing it off with water. Refrain, however, from using this method more than twice a day.
Yes, garlic can stink and can cause bad breath but it’s great at treating yeast infection. The reason garlic is rich in antimicrobial, antifungal, antibiotic and antibacterial properties. To relieve yourself from the uncomfortable symptoms, crush a few cloves until they form a paste. Then apply the garlic paste on to the affected area directly.
If you find this icky, an alternative method you can try is garlic oil. Combine garlic oil, some drops of coconut oil and vitamin E oil together. Make sure they are mixed well before applying on the itchy area. If you still find this a little icky, you can always eat at least two cloves of fresh garlic. Just gargle with Listerine mouthwash afterwards.
4. Coconut oil
We already know that coconut oilis one of the most versatile ingredients to have in your kitchen. Aside from the many nutritional benefits coconut oil offers, it’s also effective in curing yeast infections.
Coconut oil contains three types of fatty acids, namely capric acid, lauric acid and caprylic acid. These are known to be effective in inhibiting candida overgrowth. To stop the infection from worsening, pour a few drops of coconut oil on your palm or fingertips and gently apply the oil on the infected area. Repeat this thrice daily.
Another way to lessen candida growth is to mix coconut oil with cinnamon oil. Just mix equal amounts of each oil and apply directly on to the skin. If you have a yeast infection in your mouth, mix a few drops of coconut oil and tea tree oil and gargle with it for 10 minutes. Just be careful not to swallow the oil mixture.
5. Grapefruit seed extract
Also known as GSE, grapefruit seed extract has a broad application for treating different infections, including yeast overgrowth.
In an old but still reliable study conducted in 1990, it was revealed that GSE performs better than 18 fungicides and 30 antibiotics. What’s more is that is that GSE is non-toxic and doesn’t cause any side effects unlike conventional medical treatments.
To benefit from the anti-fungal properties of grapefruit seed extract, dissolve five to 10 drops of this with two cups of water. Blend them well until GSE is dissolved. Use the mixture to wash the yeast-infected area. You may also apply it directly on to the infected skin with a cotton ball. Use this remedy for thrice a day only and never beyond that. Also, refrain from using this remedy if you’re pregnant or having your menstruation. Lastly, this solution may exacerbate irritations, especially if you have sensitive skin, so consult with your health practitioner before using this.
6. Cranberry Juice
Cranberries contain active ingredients that fight bacteria and urinary tract infections. But cranberry juice isn’t just for UTIs. It can also help kill Candida albicans thanks to its antibacterial and antifungal content. So if you want to speed up the healing process of yeast infection, drink cranberry juice regularly along with other home remedies listed here. Just make sure that the juice is unsweetened and doesn’t contain any other preservatives and artificial flavors.
7. Cold Compress
One of the worst symptoms of yeast infection is itchiness. It’s uncomfortable and can disrupt your normal activities. Thankfully, you can find relief from the itch and burning pain by applying cold compress on the affected area every time the itch becomes too much to handle.
8. Sitz Bath
In general, baths are recommended for controlling the symptoms of yeast infection like itching, burning, swelling and pain. No remedy works fast enough to relieve these annoying symptoms, but you can make extra effort to speed up recovery. So in addition to using other remedies to treat yeast infection, you can try a sitz bath. This type of bath is not the same as douching, which is washing or cleaning out the inside with water or other mixtures of fluids. This is not recommended, by the way, as douching can worsen your yeast infection. On the other hand, sitz baths can provide instant relief and some improvement in the yeast infection.
To find relieve from the annoying symptoms, fill a basin specially made for sitz bath and add a cup of baking soda or vinegar to help with swelling, itching, and burning. Sit in the sitz bath for a 10 to 15 minutes or until the symptoms subsided. If baking soda or vinegar is not available, you may also try Epsom salt.
When doing sitz bath, avoid using shower gels, bubble baths, or any type of soap. Water temperature should be lukewarm and comfortable to touch. Afterwards, gently pat the area dry using a soft towel.
9. Boric Acid
Boric acid is a chemical that can act as both an antifungal and antiviral agent. Available over the counter, boric acid suppositories is used in various pharmaceutical prescriptions that are widely considered safe. Boric acid is placed in gelatin caps that are then inserted into the vagina each night before going to bed for a week.
Side effects are rare with boric acid, but it may cause vaginal burning and itching. Do not use boric acid near any cuts or abrasions, as it can enter the bloodstream and may cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, dermatitis, and kidney damage. Also, never take boric acid orally and if you’re pregnant. Despite its effectiveness, it is best to use boric acid as a last option if other home remedy options fail to give you the relief you need from your yeast infection.
10. Tea Tree Oil
While yeast infections generally affect the vaginal area, they can also develop in the lower abdomen, digestive system, nail beds, and under the breasts and beneath skin folds. Although there are plenty of over-the-counter yeast infection remedies available, tea tree oil is one of the natural alternatives widely used in fighting and eliminating yeast infection.
Tea tree oil contains terpinen-4-ol , an organic compound in the terpene family, that is used in multiple skin-related diseases which kills the fungus that causes yeast infections. Tea tree oil has miticidal, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antifungal properties that inhibit the growth of Candida albicans, reduces inflammation, treats the infection, and helps restore the body’s balance of good and bad bacteria.
You can use tea tree oil with water by mixing half teaspoon of tea tree oil and half a cup of water. Apply on the yeast-infected areas with a cotton ball. Leave for a few minutes and then wash with water. Pat dry and repeat three times a day. You can mix in one-fourth teaspoon lemon grass for added benefit.
For tampon use, mix five drops of tea tree oil into half cup of water. Dip tampon into the mixture and insert it into the vagina. Leave in two to three hours. Take it out and wash the area thoroughly. Repeat twice a day. Note, this method is not suggested for pregnant women.
11. Basil Leaves
Basil leaves are usually used as a seasoning herb for a variety of foods. It is well known for its use in Italian cuisine and is a major ingredient in pesto. Research revealed that basil contains a wide range of essential oils that gives various health benefits.
The flavonoids found in basil provide protection at the cellular level. Basil components protect cell structures and chromosomes from radiation and oxygen-based damage. In additional, basil has been shown to provide protection against unwanted bacterial growth. On the other hand, the eugenol component of basil has the same enzyme-inhibiting effect as those that are found in anti-inflammatory medicines like aspirin and ibuprofen. With this, the basil provides important healing benefits along with symptomatic relief from yeast infection.
To use basil leaves, boil three to four cups of water. Add one and one-fourth teaspoon ground basil after turning off the heat. Let it steep for thirty minutes while covered. Once it has cooled to room temperature, gargle it.
12. Rosemary Tea
Known for its aromatic spice and lovely flavor well suited to wide variety of foods, rosemary is a much-cherished medicinal herb even way back in the thirteenth century. Queen Elisabeth of Hungary, by drinking rosemary water, regained her beauty and strength even at the age of seventy-two. Indeed, rosemary has powerful antioxidant components that are effective in preventing skin diseases.
Unlike many antibacterial drugs, rosemary cleanses the blood and helps control the growth of many pathogenic bacteria without killing the good microflora in the body, preventing the growth of Candida and maintaining a healthy inner ecosystem.
To use this remedy to relieve itching and burning sensation, prepare rosemary tea and dip a cotton ball in the tea. Apply on the infected area and wash after a few minutes before patting the region dry.
13. Aloe Vera
Aloe Vera is used to treat a wide variety of internal and external conditions. It has two important roles that can help prevent and fight infections: natural antifungal, antibacterial, and antiviral properties that can help treat infection and prevent it from recurring, and the ability to increase white blood cells, which kill infections caused by bacteria, viruses, and other harmful organisms including yeast. Just cut open a leaf and apply the fresh pulp on the infected area for a soothing relief.
Keep Yeast Infections at Bay
With these home remedies, keeping infections at bay is now easier more than ever. Also, now that you know what are the common causes of a Candida outbreak, it’s best to maintain a healthy diet and a stress-free life. For women, always keep the vagina dry and clean because moist can become a breeding ground of overgrowth.