Yeast Infection Treatments: Creams & Home Remedies

Medical review: Dr. Sheila Sedicias
Gynecologist
August 2022

Treatment for yeast infections can be done with antifungal medication and it can come in the form of pills, vaginal suppositories or creams. These medications are typically prescribed by your doctor and the medication chosen usually depends on the area affected. Yeast infections can, for example, break-out in the intestines, vagina or the skin and treatment will differ in each situation.

Yeast infections, also known as candidiasis, are caused by a type of fungus called candida albicans and it can affect men and women of any age. Infections emerge with increased growth and multiplication of the fungal cells. This commonly happens when the immune system becomes weakened by illness or by the use of medication.

Symptoms of a yeast infection vary depending on the area that is infected. With vaginal yeast infections, a woman may notice thick, white discharge. Yeast infections in the mouth, also known as oral thrush, usually present with creamy white lesions in different areas of the mouth. With mycosis, or yeast infections found on the skin, it is typical for white, raised spots to appear on affected areas of the skin. A medical consult is recommended to identify the type of yeast infection present and to start the indicated treatment. 

Treatment for yeast infections depends on the type or area of infection. Types of treatment include:

1. Vaginal yeast infection

The treatment for vaginal yeast infection should be completed under the supervision of a doctor or gynecologist, and normally it includes the use of medications like:

  • Topical vaginal creams like terconazole, tioconazole or nystatin. These are applied once a day to the external vaginal area, or inside the vaginal canal, preferably at night time. Some creams will come with a cream applicator to help with application.
  • Vaginal suppositories, like miconazole, isoconazole or terconazole. These should be inserted in the vagina once a day with a clean finger or with the help of an applicator, preferably at night time.
  • Pills like fluconazole 150mg or cetoconazole 200 to 400mg, taken by mouth as single doses.

The length of time needed for treatment of vaginal yeast infections can range from 1 to 14 days (it depends on the type of medication being used). Treatment should always be completed as directed by your doctor.

2. Yeast infections in men

The treatment of yeast infections in men (or fungal overgrowth around the penis or testicles) should be completed under the supervision of a urologist. Typical treatment includes the use of antifungals like clotrimazole, nystatin or miconazole in cream or pill form. They are taken or applied to affected areas 2 to 3 times per day for up to 3 weeks, even after symptoms have disappeared.

A single dose of fluconazole may also be prescribed by the doctor.

3. Yeast infections during pregnancy

Treatment for yeast infections during pregnancy should be directed by the obstetrician. The use of a clotrimazole vaginal suppository is safe and typically indicated, and it should be inserted with the use of an applicator to prevent damage to the cervix.

Yeast infections are common in pregnant women as their immune systems are generally weakened, which facilitates the growth of fungal cells. Treatment should always be done before the baby is born to avoid any spreading of the infection to the baby during delivery.

4. Intestinal fungal infection

Treatment for an intestinal fungal infection is normally completed with a single dose of oral fluconazole 150mg. It should be taken under the supervision of a gastroenterologist.

In addition to medication, supplements or probiotics containing lactobacillus or saccharomyces boulardii can help to prevent the growth and multiplication of fungal cells. They can also help to strengthen the immune system.

5. Recurrent yeast infections

Yeast infections that keep coming back are referred to as recurrent or chronic yeast infections. It is important to identify the origin of the yeast to prevent re-infection. There are many reasons why yeast infections can keep happening; they can be related to antibiotic use, use of birth control, a weakened immune system, a history of other illnesses, poor diet or clothing choices (synthetic fabrics or tight sizing).

After identifying the cause and making changes as needed, a re-infection can also be prevented through life style and diet changes, like taking probiotics (especially when taking an antibiotic), strengthening the immune system, and taking a small, daily dose of antifungal medication.

6. Oral Thrush

Yeast infections in the mouth, commonly referred to as oral thrush, should be treated by a gastroenterologist. Treatment usually involves the use of oral antifungal solutions that are gargled and then swallowed (like nystatin), or the use of oral single-dose pills like fluconazole in more serious cases.

In conjunction with prescribed treatment, maintaining good oral hygiene is important to eliminate the infection. Teeth should be brushed at least 3 times per day.

Home remedies for yeast infections

Natural yogurt is a great option for the treatment of vaginal yeast infections. It helps to regulate vaginal pH, which prevents the multiplication of fungal cells that cause the infection.

Treatment of vaginal yeast infections using natural yogurt is completed by soaking a tampon in natural yogurt and inserting it in the vagina. It should be left in place for at least 3 hours. Men can also use this treatment to treat their own genital yeast infection by applying yogurt to the tip of their penis. 

Other considerations when treating a yeast infection

Other considerations to keep in mind when treating a yeast infection include:

  • Maintaining good overall hygiene and taking special care to keep the genital area dry
  • Using a condom during any sexual contact
  • Opting for loose, cotton-based clothing
  • Avoiding unnecessary use of medication, especially antibiotics
  • Drinking plenty of fluids every day
  • Opting for greens, veggies and fruit
  • Avoiding intake of alcohol, sugar and fatty food

These behaviours can help to treat yeast infections and prevent reemergence, and can be utilized by men or women of any age.

Signs of improvement

Women will experience reduced itching and redness when a yeast infection is improving, as well as a decreased production of white discharge. A fungal intestinal infection will appear to be better when bowel movements have regulated and the patient feels improved energy levels and strength.

Signs of worsening

When a yeast infection is worsening, the person may experience symptoms like nausea or vomiting, intense abdominal pain, fever with chills or loss of appetite over long periods of time. If the infection is worsening, they should proceed to a hospital to start treatment as indicated.

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Atualizado por Tua Saude editing team, em August de 2022. Medical review por Dr. Sheila Sedicias - Gynecologist, em October de 2021.

References

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  • RUIZ-SÁNCHEZ, D.; et al. Intestinal candidiasis. A clinical report and comments about this opportunistic pathology. Mycopathologia. 156. 1; 9-11, 2002
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Medical review:
Dr. Sheila Sedicias
Gynecologist
Physician graduated in Mastology and Gynecology by UFPE in 2008 and member no. 17459 of CRM-PE, Brazil.