Thrush is a condition caused by the ‘overgrowth’ of a yeast known as Candida. Candida is a member of the normal skin flora. It loves warm and wet environments, so tends to grow more easily in the vagina, anus, skin creases, gut, and mouth. Candida, on its own, rarely triggers an infection but can cause problems if allowed to overgrow. Vaginal thrush can be particularly troublesome. It is important to note that vaginal thrush is not a sexually transmitted infection (STI).
SYMPTOMS OF VAGINAL THRUSH
There are several tell-tale signs of vaginal thrush. These can include:
• An itchy sensation in the vagina and vulva
• A thick, white or off-white vaginal discharge with the consistency of cottage cheese
• Redness and swelling of the vagina and vulva
• Small cuts or tiny cracks in the skin of the vulva and many be found around the anus
• Soreness and stinging when you pass urine or during sex
You can contact your healthcare provider to confirm the diagnosis if you are unsure if your symptoms are related to thrush.
Treatments for vaginal thrush are available from your local pharmacist without a prescription. There are creams (such as Clotrimazole), or pessaries that are put inside the vagina with a special applicator. Oral treatments (such as fluconazole or Itraconazole) are available but you must consult with your doctor or pharmacist before taking any oral medication.
HOW TO PREVENT VAGINAL THRUSH
Wear underwear that has a cotton crotch and does not fit too tightly.
• Don’t stay in wet clothes, such as swimsuits and workout attire for long periods of time
• Do not douche (wash or rinse the vagina) as you are simply washing away the normal bacteria (flora) in the vagina that protects you against infection
• Do not use scented feminine products such as scented sanitary pads/tampons, scented toilet paper
• Avoid perfumed sprays and avoid antiseptics in the genital area
• Wipe your bottom from front to back after going to the toilet. This will prevent the spread of yeast from the anus to the vagina
• Avoid hot tubs and very hot baths
• Avoid unnecessary antibiotic use for symptoms of common colds and other viral infections
• Sugar is food for yeast, so it makes sense that high blood sugar levels create a better environment for yeast to grow, so curb your sweet tooth! If you have diabetes, keeping blood sugar levels under control will help to reduce the frequency and severity of outbreaks of yeast infections