Women who get recurrent yeast infections may in fact be battling a more complicated infection that requires a longer course of treatment and/or a change in behaviors that may be at the root of the problem. If your symptoms last more than a few days or return promptly, ask your health care professional about a longer course of treatment (seven to 14 days with a topical antifungal therapy or three doses of fluconazole). You should also be sure to complete the full course of the medication, even after symptoms disappear. In addition, watch out for behaviors that can lead to recurrent yeast infections, such as using panty liners, panty hose or sexual lubricants or drinking cranberry juice.
An evaluation of past clinical studies conducted before and after the introduction of absorbent gelling materials in diapers confirms that use of these materials has been associated with a definite reduction in the severity of diaper rash. Survival of Candida colonies was reduced by almost two-thirds in the breathable diaper-covered sites compared to the control sites.
Martinez, R. C. R., Franceschini, S. A., Patta, M. C., Quintana, S. M., Candido, R. C., Ferreira, J. C., . . . Reid, G. (2009, March). Improved treatment of vulvovaginal candidiasis with fluconazole plus probiotic Lactobacillus rhamnosus GR-1 and Lactobacillus reuteri RC-14. Letters in Applied Microbiology, 48(3), 269–274. Retrieved from http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1472-765X.2008.02477.x/full
This exam includes a speculum exam, using a specialized instrument to hold open your vagina. The exam can be uncomfortable because of pressure against the tissues. The health care practitioner will take a swab of the discharge and may obtain other cultures to rule out other diseases. The swab for yeast will be mixed with a drop of potassium hydroxide and will be placed on a slide. If yeast are present, a specific branching pattern will be seen through the microscope.
If things are tingling downstairs in a not-so-pleasant fashion, the Mayo Clinic says this is a common symptom of an active yeast infection. But here's a doozy: If you have one, it's possible to spread it to your partner. It’s not overly common, but since men also have candida on their skin, having unprotected sex can cause an overgrowth that results in an infection called balanitis, or inflammation of the head of the penis. Because of that, Mason says they could experience an itching or burning sensation, redness, and small white spots on the skin. If that happens, he'll need to see the doc too so he can be treated with over-the-counter anti-fungal medications.
"During my pregnancy, I developed terribly uncomfortable vaginal yeast symptoms that just about drove me crazy. I knew it was a yeast infection, but since I was pregnant, I just didn't want to do anything I shouldn't. So I went for a quick check, and my midwife sent me right off to get some over-the-counter cream. She told me that even though I'd been right about my diagnosis, I'd done the right thing to see her first. Sometimes it isn't what you think it is, and you never know what medicines are safe when you're pregnant."
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It’s no wonder why you might not want to head to the doctor to treat a yeast infection. Waiting to see the doctor can extend your itchy vagina experience, and actually following through with the appointment can be time-consuming. Plus, isn’t that the entire point of all those at-home yeast infection treatments at the drugstore? We spoke with ob/gyns to find out: When the going gets cottage cheesy, is it OK to just treat a yeast infection at home?
Candida normally lives inside the body (in places such as the mouth, throat, gut, and vagina) and on skin without causing any problems. Scientists estimate that about 20% of women normally have Candida in the vagina without having any symptoms.2 Sometimes, Candida can multiply and cause an infection if the environment inside the vagina changes in a way that encourages its growth. This can happen because of hormones, medicines, or changes in the immune system.
Systemic candidiasis occurs when Candida yeast enters the bloodstream and may spread (becoming disseminated candidiasis) to other organs, including the central nervous system, kidneys, liver, bones, muscles, joints, spleen, or eyes. Treatment typically consists of oral or intravenous antifungal medications. In candidal infections of the blood, intravenous fluconazole or an echinocandin such as caspofungin may be used. Amphotericin B is another option.
A recurrent yeast infection occurs when a woman has four or more infections in one year that are not related to antibiotic use. Recurrent yeast infections may be related to an underlying medical condition such as impaired immunity and may require more aggressive treatment. This can include longer courses of topical treatments, oral medications, or a combination of the two.
Antibiotic treatment. Babies exposed to antibiotic treatment (even if the nursing mother is consuming antibiotics) are more prone to develop yeast infection. The reason is that consumption of antibiotic kill good bacteria (besides the disease causing bacteria) present in body that keeps the excessive yeast growth in check. In the absence of good bacteria, yeast can grow excessively.
Let’s say you’ve had a diagnosed yeast infection in the past, you self-treated a recent one in the last month or two, and it seems like the infection didn’t go away—or it went away but now it’s back. That might mean the treatment simply masked the symptoms rather than eradicating the overgrowth completely. “If your symptoms aren't better and they don't stay better, then you really have to go in and get checked,” Dr. Eckert says.
References: 1. ISSVD. (2016). Vulvovaginal Candidiasis (Candida, Yeast): Tips for Diagnosis and Treatment (Version 1.0) [Mobile application software]. Retrieved from http://itunes.apple.com. 2. Richter SS, et al. Antifungal susceptibilities of Candida species causing vulvovaginitis and epidemiology of recurrent cases. J Clin Microbiol. 2005;43(5):2155-2162. 3. Mølgaard-Nielsen D, Svanström H, Melbye M, Hviid A, Pasternak B. Association between use of oral fluconazole during pregnancy and risk of spontaneous abortion and stillbirth. JAMA. 2016;315(1):58-67. 4. Lowes R. Low-dose fluconazole in pregnancy worries FDA. Available at: http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/862447. Published April 26, 2016. Accessed August 26, 2017. 5. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Vulvovaginal candidiasis. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/std/tg2015/candidiasis.htm. Updated June 4, 2015. Accessed August 26, 2017. 6. May M, Schindler C. Clinically and pharmacologically relevant interactions of antidiabetic drugs. Ther Adv Endocrinol Metab. 2016;7(2):69-83. 7. Diflucan [prescribing information]. New York, NY: Roerig; 2013. 8. Goswami D, Goswami R, Banerjee U, et al. Pattern of Candida species isolated from patients with diabetes mellitus and vulvovaginal candidiasis and their response to single dose oral fluconazole therapy. J Infect. 2006;52(2):111-117. 9. Nyirjesy P, Sobel JD. Genital mycotic infections in patients with diabetes. Postgrad Med. 2015;125(3):33-46.