A yeast infection is actually a fungal infection that usually affects the warm and moist places of the body, such as the mouth, throat, and the genital area. Yeasts are a type of unicellular fungi that thrive in a humid and warm environment. The most common type of yeast infection is candidiasis, which is caused by Candida albicans.
Candida albicans resides in the intestinal tract, but does not cause any health problem under normal circumstances, as its population is kept under control by a strong immune system and the beneficial bacteria residing in the intestinal tract. So, factors that can weaken the immune system and destroy the beneficial microorganisms can cause candidiasis. Some such common factors are, the prolonged use of antibiotics, steroids, and oral contraceptives, and a diet rich in sugar.
Signs and Symptoms
Before treating the infection, it is important to make sure that it is indeed caused by yeasts. For this, one should know the symptoms of this condition. When the infection affects the mouth and the throat, it is known as oral thrush, which can be identified by a cottage cheese-like appearance of the mouth and the tongue.
Women can experience vaginal yeast infections, which can produce symptoms, like itching or irritation, a burning sensation in the vagina, vaginal discharge that looks like cottage cheese, and pain, especially during sexual intercourse. Though yeast infections of the genital area is more common in women, men too can get this condition occasionally. Sometimes, the penis can get infected, which can cause the appearance of some small lesions on its head, along with itching or a burning sensation in the genital area, and white-colored discharge.
Antifungal creams, ointments, and oral antifungal medications are usual options for treating candidiasis. On the other hand, vaginal suppositories are commonly used for treating vaginal yeast infections. Though these medications can cure the infection, they can cause a few side effects. Moreover, they may fail to prevent its recurrences. This is the reason why many people prefer the natural treatment options, which are discussed below.
Plain yogurt, i.e., the unsweetened yogurt is a simple, but excellent home remedy for treating this infection. Yogurt contains the beneficial acidophilus bacteria, that can control the growth of Candida albicans. Yogurt can be consumed, as well as applied topically on the affected area.
Like yogurt, buttermilk also contains beneficial bacteria. So, it can prevent the growth of candida albicans in the body. Both buttermilk and yogurt need to be consumed several times a day to get rid of yeast infections.
Garlic is renowned for its antifungal properties. It can prove immensely helpful in treating candidiasis. Ideally, one should consume two to three cloves of garlic daily to cure the infection. This home remedy is also suitable for topical application. Just crush one or two cloves of garlic, and apply the paste on the affected area of the skin.
For treating a vaginal yeast infection, you can wrap finely cut garlic cloves in a cheesecloth, and insert it into the vagina keeping a part of the cheesecloth outside so that you can remove it after 15 to 20 minutes.
Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil can be applied topically to destroy candida albicans, as it has antifungal properties. However, the use of undiluted tea tree oil should be avoided. Pregnant women should better avoid this remedy.
Both white vinegar and apple cider vinegar can be used to treat this infection, as vinegar can inhibit the growth of fungus. Just mix a small amount of vinegar and water, and apply it on the infected area of the skin. Keep it for about 10 to 15 minutes, and then wash the area with clean water. Repeat the process for a few days.
Along with the aforementioned home remedies, you can consider to take probiotics or acidophilus supplements. These supplements can be quite beneficial in treating fungal infections like candidiasis. Probiotic supplements contain numerous beneficial bacteria, which can control the proliferation of Candida albicans in the body.
To treat and prevent fungal infections, you should reduce the consumption of sugar and sugary food, and food that contains yeasts. Consider to follow a yeast-free diet until the infection clears up. Be sure to keep the genital area clean and dry, and avoid wearing tight-fitting clothes. If the infection persists and worsens, and looks quite alarming, then consider to get the condition properly evaluated with the help a certified physician.
Disclaimer: This HolisticZine article is for informative purposes only, and should not be replaced for the advice of a medical professional.