Vaginal thrush is a common infection caused by an overgrowth of Candida albicans yeast. This yeast lives naturally in the bowel and in small numbers in the vagina. It is mostly harmless, but symptoms can develop if yeast numbers increase.
About 75 per cent of women will have vaginal thrush in their lifetime. Other names for this infection are candidiasis or monilia.
Symptoms can include vaginal itching or burning, a white discharge and stinging or burning while urinating. Vaginal creams or vaginal tablets (pessaries) can help reduce the symptoms of thrush. Thrush can also occur in other parts of the body, such as the mouth.
Symptoms of vaginal thrush
Symptoms you may experience if you develop vaginal thrush include:
- Vaginal discomfort – itching or burning
- A thick, white discharge with a ‘cottage cheese’ appearance and yeasty smell
- Redness or swelling of the vagina or vulva
- Stinging or burning while urinating
- Splits in the genital skin.
Treatment for vaginal thrush
Apple cider vinegar
One popular yeast infection remedy is an apple cider vinegar bath.
Vinegar has many medicinal uses, some more proven by research than others. When you add a half cup of apple cider vinegar to a lukewarm bathtub and soak for 20 minutes, the acidic component of the vinegar is supposed to eliminate any harmful microorganisms.
A vinegar bath is not the same as vinegar douching, which aims to flush out all bacteria (good and bad) from your vagina. Doing so leaves you more prone to a recurrence of the yeast infection.
Garlic was shown in one lab studyTrusted Source to be an effective Candida killer. But there’s some debate over whether it will help cure yeast infections outside of a lab setting.
If you’d like to try garlic to treat a yeast infection, add more garlic to your diet. Some websites recommend inserting garlic in the vagina, but burns and significant pain have been reported. You should stick with adding garlic in foods.
Probiotic suppositories and supplements
Probiotics help restore the bacteria-yeast balance throughout your body. If you start a regimen of oral probiotics that contain strains of the lactobacillus acidophilus bacteria, you can bring your digestive tract and vaginal flora back into alignment.
Oral supplements take about 10 days to reach full effect, so some women use probiotics as vaginal suppositories to see results more quickly.
Probiotic suppositories have also been shown to be effective for treating vaginosis, according to Harvard Health.
What to expect
Most home remedies bring relief within a few days. Some may take up to a week.
Call your doctor if your symptoms worsen or if new symptoms appear at any time during treatment. Also call your doctor if you have persistent irritation that’s separate from your yeast infection symptoms.
If your infection goes away with treatment but then returns, contact your doctor for advice. You may need a prescription-strength treatment.