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Home Remedies for Yeast Infections
A vaginal yeast infection (vaginal candidiasis) is caused by an overgrowth of a fungus that naturally lives in your vagina, called Candida albicans.
This overgrowth triggers irritation, inflammation, itching, and painful discharge. Most women experience a yeast infection sometime during their lifetime.
If this is your first time experiencing the symptoms of a yeast infection, you should visit a gynecologist to verify that you actually have a yeast infection and not something else.
But if you have recurring yeast infections, talk to your doctor about other safe ways to try to treat a yeast infection or perhaps prevent reoccurrence.
Some of these remedies use ingredients that you might already have in your home. Their effectiveness varies, and evidence for their success is mostly anecdotal.
The Mayo Clinic mentions that some complementary therapies might provide some relief combined with your doctor’s care.
Keep reading to find out about some popular home remedies for yeast infections.
Probiotics can be effective against C. albicans.
Yogurt can be considered a probiotic because it contains live bacteria, such as Lactobacillus acidophilus. These bacteria are essential to creating a healthy environment in your vagina. They can help treat an overgrowth caused by an imbalance.
Confirmed in a 2017 study, eating yogurt helps increase the gut microbiome and can reduce yeast in the body. If you don’t like yogurt, then take probiotics. Probiotics are best taken with food.
Plain Greek yogurt is the best kind to use for this home remedy. Make sure that the yogurt doesn’t contain added sugar, which fuels growth of the Candida fungus.
Boric acid is a powerful antiseptic that some women claim is useful for treating yeast infections that are resistant to other remedies.
Topical boric acid is recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)Trusted Source as treatment for vaginal infections. Boric acid vaginal suppositories may also be used with medications to treat vaginal infections.
Boric acid is toxic in large amounts. It can lead to kidney damage, acute failure of the circulatory system, or death if you absorb enough of it. To avoid this, don’t use boric acid on broken skin and don’t take it orally.
If you’re pregnant, you should not use boric acid in any form.
For those with sensitive skin, this may not be a good choice. Discontinue use if any discomfort begins.
Common oregano, or Origanum marjoram, is what you usually find in your grocery store’s spice section. The oil of oregano used to treat yeast infections isn’t the same type, however.
Look for oil of oregano made from wild oregano, or Origanum vulgare, like the one here. It contains thymol and carvacrol, which are powerful antifungals.
A 2017 study found oregano essential oil to be effective in altering thegrowth of C. albicans.
Oil of oregano is a natural blood thinner, so don’t use it (diffused or topically) if you take blood thinners for another health condition. Also don’t use it if you have blood-clotting issues, such as from a vitamin K deficiency.
Remember: Essential oils should not be taken orally. They’re meant to be inhaled as part of aromatherapy. While some studies are examining other ways to use oregano essential oils, at this time it’s recommended that you use it diluted in a carrier oil, such as olive or sweet almond oil.
To use: Mix 3-5 drops of essential oil per ounce of carrier oil. Then, apply it to the skin in massage. It can also be inhaled through a diffuser. Do not apply this essential oil near your vagina.
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. Eating yogurt is one way to increase probiotics.
Oral supplements take about 10 days to reach full effect, so some women use probiotics as vaginal suppositories to see results more quickly. If you want to try vaginal probiotics, you can purchase them online.
Probiotic suppositories have also been shown to be effective for treating vaginosis, according to Harvard Health.
Coconut oil is a fatty oil derived from the flesh of the coconut. The oil has many health benefits, including antifungal properties.
Studies have shown that coconut oil is effective against C. albicans, making this home remedy one of the few with strong evidence that it actually works.
To treat a vaginal yeast infection using coconut oil, be sure to buy pure, organic coconut oil. You can apply the oil directly to the affected area.
Tea tree oil is an essential oil that’s used to kill fungi, bacteria, and viruses.
A recent study also found tea tree oil to be effective as an antimicrobial and in helping break down the biofilm.
Tea tree oil is incredibly powerful. Make sure to dilute it with a carrier oil, such as jojoba or coconut oil, if it’s going to touch your skin. Already prepared tea tree vaginal suppositories are the best option.
Only use tea tree oil occasionally, and never swallow it. If you have sensitive skin, do not use tea tree oil. Discontinue use if any discomfort occurs.
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 can eliminate any harmful microorganisms, including yeast.
An apple cider vinegar bath is not the same as douching, which aims to flush out all bacteria (good and bad) from your vagina. Doing so leaves you more prone to a reoccurrence of the yeast infection. Do not douche with apple cider vinegar.
Vinegar should be diluted in water before touching the skin. You should also consider adding apple cider vinegar to your diet.
In a 2005 lab studyTrusted Source, garlic was shown to be an effective Candida killer. But there’s debate over whether it’ll 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.
Hydrogen peroxide is a bacteria and yeast-killing antiseptic. Hydrogen peroxide is produced by Lactobacillus bacteria in the vagina and is part of the biological activity against yeast, according to the CDCTrusted Source.
While it won’t work on every species of yeast, some women swear by using hydrogen peroxide topically when they get a yeast infection.
There’s no strong research to support the use of hydrogen peroxide to treat vaginal infections. Do not douche with hydrogen peroxide. Adding it to a bath or diluting in water may help with yeast growing on the genitals.
Diluting (half water and half hydrogen peroxide) is recommended before applying it to your genitals, and don’t use it for an extended period of time.
Vitamin C is an immune system booster. A strong immune system allows your body to bring itself back into balance.
Vitamin C (also called ascorbic acid) has antimicrobial components, so some women add it to their diet to treat Candida overgrowths.
Try increasing your intake of vitamin C to boost your body’s ability to beat the yeast infection. Do not apply the acidic vitamin C to the sensitive vaginal tissue.
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.
Follow these tips to help prevent future yeast infections.
- Limit the amount of sugar and processed foods you consume. Yeast thrives on sugar.
- Wear loose-fitting, cotton underwear.
- Don’t spend extended periods of time in wet clothes or bathing suits. Yeast grows in warm, moist environments.
- Only use antibiotics when necessary.
- Don’t use douches unless advised by your doctor, and avoid vaginal deodorant sprays and scented vaginal lotions. They may alter the balance of good bacteria and yeast in your vagina.
Home remedies may or may not work to treat your yeast infection. If you use herbs, supplements, or essential oils, be aware that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t monitor these for safety, purity, and quality. Buy from a reputable source.
The effectiveness of a home remedy varies depending on the person, the severity of the infection, and the quality of the treatment used. If you have recurring vaginal infections, talk to your doctor about more natural approaches to preventing and treating this.
Be sure to keep in mind that any product, natural or otherwise, may irritate sensitive vaginal skin. You should stop using the remedy and call your doctor if you experience any irritation or discomfort.
Three out of four women will experience at least one yeast infection in their lifetimes. If you’ve had one, you know the signs: severe vaginal itching and irritation accompanied by a thick, white discharge. Sometimes you might feel a burning sensation during urination or sex. Yeast infections certainly aren’t pleasant, but under most circumstances, they’re easy to treat.
What causes a yeast infection?
The vagina always contains small amounts of yeast. When you’re healthy, that yeast (technically, a fungus known as Candida albicans) exists in harmony with your immune system and your other normal vaginal microorganisms. But when something disrupts this balance, the yeast can grow quickly, becoming dense enough to cause the symptoms of a full-blown infection.
Antibiotics are one of the most common culprits in causing yeast infections, because they destroy vaginal bacteria and thereby disrupt the balance of power among the vaginal microorganisms. This balance is also affected by hormone levels, so women are more prone to yeast infections if they’re using hormonal contraceptives, during pregnancy, or just prior to menstruation. Yeast infections are also more common in women with compromised immune systems due to illnesses like diabetes, AIDS, or cancer. In fact, anything that weakens your immune system—stress, lack of sleep, consumption of alcohol, and even refined sugar—can lead to an overgrowth of yeast.
How should I treat a yeast infection?
Fortunately, most yeast infections are not serious. Left untreated, yeast infections will usually go away on their own, but the severe itching can be hard to tolerate for some. Fortunately, the infections respond well to over-the-counter antifungal creams or suppositories, so if you’re sure you have a yeast infection, go ahead and try an OTC yeast infection medication like Monistat or yeast arrest suppositories, which contain boric acid, a mild antiseptic. However, pregnant women should avoid boric acid.
Some people find soaking in an apple cider vinegar bath offers relief, as the vinegar can help restore normal acidity to the vagina. Add two cups of vinegar to a shallow warm—not hot—bath, and soak for 15 minutes. Make sure you dry yourself thoroughly before getting dressed. Every body is different, but most women will see some improvement after two or three soaks.
Applying plain yogurt to the area may help to restore balance and reduce irritation. Using only plain yogurt with active cultures, once or twice a day, rub a few tablespoons’ worth around the outside of the vagina to quell irritation, or insert the same amount into the vagina. You can also dip a tampon in the yogurt, let it soak for a few minutes, and then insert it.
It’s safe to try these natural remedies before you opt for the over-the-counter medications, and they are perfectly safe to use in addition to other treatments, even for pregnant women.
For chronic yeast infections, prescription strength boric acid is sometimes recommended, but it has to be obtained from a pharmacy that compounds drugs. The gelatin capsules are inserted into the vagina at night for two weeks, and serve as both an antiseptic and anti-inflammatory agent.
When should I make an appointment to see my provider?
The first time you experience the symptoms of a yeast infection, you should see your doctor to rule out any other conditions. Even if you’ve had a yeast infection before, you should consult your physician if the condition isn’t improving despite using medication, or if you experience four or more yeast infections per year. You might need something stronger than what’s available over-the-counter. Finally, if your discharge has a bad odor, if you have a fever, or if you have other serious medical problems, you should definitely seek medical attention.
How can I prevent future yeast infections?
The best way to reduce your risk of getting a yeast infection is to avoid things that promote the growth of yeast. Here’s how:
- Keep the vaginal area clean and dry. After showering, dry the area thoroughly. Always remove wet swimsuits and exercise clothes right away and change into cotton pants without underwear. Limit the amount of time you spend in hot tubs or very hot baths.
- Let the area breathe. Wear cotton, not nylon, underwear; and avoid tights and pantyhose without a cotton lining, as well as tight pants. Consider not wearing underwear during sleep to allow some airflow.
- Watch your sugar intake, including alcohol! Sugar is the main food source for yeast.
- Take probiotics, especially if you are taking antibiotics. Probiotics, found in cultured foods like yogurt and especially in Activia, help restore your normal vaginal bacteria.
- Finally, always avoid douches, feminine sprays, deodorant tampons, and even bubble baths, which may contain chemicals that can be irritating.
is a stellar choice to help your body heal naturally because it’s known for so many healing benefits, including acting as an antifungal and antibacterial food. You’ll need to take it internally as it can help flush out toxins, mucus, and all types of harmful bacteria that can cause a back up during digestion and cause yeast to fester even more. Take a tablespoon diluted in some room temperature or warm water in the morning, in the afternoon and at night after or before your meals. You can add some lemon and stevia if you need it to taste better. You can even add it to herbal teas over ice if you want (it’s actually pretty refreshing!). Try adding ginger to fight bacteria further, and whatever you do- buy the right kind of apple cider vinegar.
You need to purchase raw, organic apple cider vinegar so you know that the ‘mother’ is still in tact, which is the good bacteria the vinegar grows on. (This is the cloudy appearance you see in the bottom of the jar.) A good brand is Bragg’s, though some others are available too. Be sure it’s also non-GMO and organic, whatever you do, to avoid pesticides and harmful chemicals that only feed bad bacteria.
Since apple cider vinegar is a prebiotic (which feeds the good bacteria), you need to be sure you’re taking in plenty of good bacteria so they can thrive. You can eat fermented foods that are helpful, such as sauerkraut, raw kimchi, and miso. You’ll want to avoid dairy, gluten and most wheat products, and other allergenic foods that can sometimes aggravate yeast overgrowth as well. Also, eat plenty of prebiotic-rich foods that can also help your good gut bacteria and take a plant-based probiotic as well.
You may find in the beginning of healing and battling yeast that you suffer a detox reaction where you feel worse before you feel better, but after several days or weeks, you’ll probably feel much better. You might also see some changes during digestion at this time, but keep in mind that your body is healing and getting rid of bad bacteria. Use warm baths, take magnesium or eat magnesium-rich foods if you find you have a hard time sleeping or with regularity, and be sure to get some fresh sunlight daily if you can. If you’re tired, allow your body to rest, and overall, just focus on eating healthier foods while your body adjusts.
What to Remember About Candida and Yeast Overgrowth
Keep in mind that chronic yeast overgrowth can lead to larger health problems later on, so do your best to take care of your body. Though apple cider vinegar may not cure it completely, it can be used as a helpful tool in fighting candida. For professional advice on treating yeast overgrowth, see Body Ecology, a world-wide leading organization known for treating candida, The Candida Diet, and Ricki Heller, a renowned candida expert with recipes and tips for plant-based eaters.
Apple cider vinegar is fermented with a beneficial yeast that acts as a prebiotic for healthy bacteria in your gut, so essentially it helps your good bacteria grow as you eliminate harmful foods that feed the harmful yeasts like candida. Apple cider vinegar is even applied topically to the skin to treat skin fungal infections, acne, and even used as an alternative treatment to chemical-filled creams for jock-itch.