The amount of itching also varies but can be severe enough to interfere with sleep and normal activities. Some women notice a characteristic odour suggestive of bread dough or the fermenting yeast smell of beer being brewed.
Other frequent symptoms are swelling, redness and irritation of the outer and inner lips (the labia), painful sex and painful urination due to local irritation of the urethra.
A woman with a full-blown yeast infection is acutely uncomfortable and requires immediate treatment if possible. If you suspect that you have a yeast infection see your doctor as soon as possible in order to get cultures of the vaginal secretions taken. Other vaginal infections can co-exist or produce a similar picture of signs and symptoms.
What You Can Do At Home
After you have had yeast infection confirmed by culture, or while waiting to see your doctor, you can begin treatment right away with some simple over-the-counter remedies.
Boric acid is an effective, inexpensive treatment for yeast infections. It costs $2.50 for a small bottle. Boric acid can be put in 00 gelatin capsules and inserted high into the vagina once or twice a day for seven days. As an alternative, a douche can be made using two tablespoons of boric acid to one quart of lukewarm water. This can be used daily for a week.
Another over-the-counter drug is betadine douche or suppository. Betadine is a concentrated antiseptic iodine solution that kills yeast, trichomonas and gardnerella. It is used daily as a douche or twice daily as a suppository. It has several disadvantages. It stains everything bright brown. It cannot be used for pregnant women or those allergic to iodine (test first with a small amount of the solution on the vagina). It costs $8.50 for a ten-day supply of the douche and $14.00 for a package of 14 suppositories.
One percent gentian violet is one of the oldest treatments for yeast infections and actually works well, but is messy and stains everything bright purple. Gentian violet is painted onto the vagina with a Q-tip. Remember to include the nooks and crannies of the vaginal walls when painting it on and be sure to test for possible allergic reaction first. A two-ounce bottle costs $8.00.
Another old remedy that is effective against both yeast and trichomonas is the use of a whole clove of garlic. The garlic is peeled but not nicked, and wrapped in gauze making a kind of tampon with a gauze tail. The whole thing may be dipped in vegetable oil to make insertion into the vagina easier. Leave the garlic suppository in place for 12 hours, then douche with dilute vinegar solution. This treatment usually goes on for three days. You can get an unpleasant garlicky taste in your mouth as a side effect, but otherwise this works well.
For the relief of unbearable itching try one of the following:
Afterwards, keep the area dry, if necessary use a hair dryer, and dust with cornstarch.
What Your Doctor Might Prescribe
Three main types of prescription drugs are used to treat yeast infections.
The first is nystatin (mycostatin, nilstat) which was the original drug used to treat yeast infections. It comes in the form of vaginal tablets which are inserted into the vagina twice a day for seven days (this is one of the least irritating forms of treatment), and also in the form of vaginal creams which are inserted into the vagina with an applicator once a night for seven to ten days. It is safe, easy to use and cheap. It is about 70 percent effective. It costs $12.50 for a course of treatment with the tablets and $20 for the cream. Nystatin also comes in a pure powder form, which is sometimes necessary in resistant cases of yeast infection.
The second and newer family of imidazole drugs include miconazole (monistat), clotrimazole (canesten), and econazole (ecostatin). Monistat is a very effective drug for simple yeast infections.
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