A vaginal yeast infection (vaginal candidiasis) is caused by an overgrowth of a fungus that naturally lives in the vagina, called Candida albicans.
This overgrowth triggers irritation, inflammation, itching, and painful discharge. Most folks with a vulva and vagina experience a yeast infection at some point during their lifetime.
If this is your first time experiencing the symptoms of a yeast infection, visit a gynecologist to verify that you actually have a yeast infection and not something else.
But if you’re positive you have a yeast infection, there are several home remedies that might provide relief. Some of these remedies use ingredients that you might already have in your home. Their effectiveness varies, however, and evidence for their success is mostly anecdotal.
Here’s a closer look at home remedies for yeast infections and how they work.
1. Greek yogurt
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.
A 2017 study suggests that eating yogurt helps expand the gut microbiome, which can help to reduce yeast in the body. If you don’t like yogurt, you can take a probiotic supplement or try other probiotic foods.
When it comes to using yogurt for a yeast infection, opt for plain Greek yogurt. Make sure the yogurt doesn’t contain any added sugar, flavoring, or fruit. Added sugar can fuel the growth of the Candida fungus.
To reap the benefits, try eating the yogurt, applying it to the vulva around the vagina, or inserting it vaginally.
2. Boric acid
Boric acid is a powerful antiseptic that some claim is useful for treating yeast infections resistant to other remedies.
Boric acid vaginal suppositories may be used with medications to treat vaginal infections.
Boric acid is toxic in large amounts. It can lead to kidney damage, acute circulatory system failure, or death if you absorb too much. Don’t use boric acid on broken skin, and don’t take it orally.
If you’re pregnant, don’t use boric acid in any form.
If you have sensitive skin, this may not be a good option. Discontinue use if any discomfort begins.
3. Essential oil of oregano
Common oregano, or Origanum marjoram, is what you usually find in your grocery store’s spice section. However, the oil of oregano used to treat yeast infections is not the same type.
Look for oregano oil made from wild oregano, or Origanum vulgare.
Never ingest essential oils. Essential oils are meant to be inhaled as part of aromatherapy. While some studies are examining other ways to use essential oil of oregano, experts recommend diluting it in a carrier oil, such as olive or sweet almond oil, at this time.
To use, mix 3 to 5 drops of essential oil per ounce of carrier oil. Then, apply it to the skin in massage. It can also be inhaled using a diffuser. Don’t apply this essential oil near the vagina.
4. Probiotic suppositories and supplements
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 people use probiotics as vaginal suppositories to see results more quickly.
Probiotic suppositories have also been shown to be effective for treating vaginosis.
5. Coconut oil
Coconut oil is a fatty oil derived from the flesh of the coconut. The oil has many health benefits, including antifungal properties.
Studies suggest 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.
6. Tea tree oil
Tea tree oil is an essential oil that’s used to kill fungi, bacteria, and viruses.
Another study found tea tree oil to be effective as an antimicrobial in helping break down the biofilm.
Tea tree oil is an incredibly powerful essential oil. 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, don’t use tea tree oil. Discontinue use if any discomfort occurs.
Undiluted tea tree oil should never touch the skin.
7. Apple cider vinegar
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. Don’t douche with apple cider vinegar.
Vinegar should be diluted in water before touching the skin. In addition, consider adding apple cider vinegar to your diet.
Fast forward to 2020, and another
While more studies are needed, research from 2019 examined the effect of using a garlic solution on sores of the mouth and found it was effective in inhibiting the growth of Candida. However, it was not as effective as using nystatin (Nystop), an antifungal medication.
If you want to try garlic to treat a yeast infection, add more garlic to your diet. Some websites recommend inserting garlic in the vagina, but this is not recommended. When applied to the skin or mucosa, the active compounds in garlic can cause burns and pain. FYI, mucosa — or mucous membrane — is the type of moist tissue that lines the mouth, and yes, the walls of the vagina.
Stick with adding garlic to foods instead.
9. Hydrogen peroxide
Hydrogen peroxide is an antiseptic that can kill bacteria and yeast.
While it won’t work on every species of yeast, some people 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. Don’t 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.
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10. Vitamin C
Vitamin C is an immune system booster and also has a role in skin health. A strong immune system allows your body to bring itself back into balance.
Vitamin C, also called ascorbic acid, has antimicrobial components, so some people 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. Don’t apply the acidic vitamin C to the sensitive vaginal tissue.
11. Vitamin E
Some doctors recommend vitamin E for certain types of vaginitis. In fact,
Vitamin E suppositories have also been
Vitamin E as a suppository in the vagina or vitamin E oil can be used once or twice per day for 3 to 14 days to soothe the mucous membranes of the vagina and vulva.
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Most home remedies bring relief within a few days. Some may take up to 1 week.
Call a doctor if your symptoms worsen or if new symptoms appear at any time during treatment. Also, call a doctor if you have persistent irritation that’s separate from yeast infection symptoms.
If your infection goes away with treatment but then returns, contact a doctor for advice. You may need a prescription-strength treatment to get rid of the infection for good.
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 a doctor, and avoid vaginal deodorant sprays and scented vaginal lotions. They may alter the balance of good bacteria and yeast in your vagina.
What is the fastest way to get rid of a yeast infection?
The fastest — and most reliable — way to get rid of a yeast infection is to visit a doctor if you suspect you have one. They will likely prescribe fluconazole, an oral treatment that may take 1 week to get rid of the infection.
Can yeast infections go away on their own?
A mild yeast infection may go away on its own, but this is rare. It’s always a good idea to treat a yeast infection, even if it’s mild. If yeast infections are not treated properly, they’re more likely to return.
What happens if a yeast infection is left untreated?
It may go away, but it is likely to return, and it could be worse.
How do I know if it’s a yeast infection or a urinary tract infection (UTI)?
If you are experiencing a vaginal yeast infection, you may have unusual, generally odorless, vaginal discharge that is thick and milky looking. You may also have pain or itchiness in your genital area.
If you are experiencing a UTI, you may have pain and burning when urinating, foul-smelling urine, as well as fever, chills, nausea, and pain in your pelvis.
Yeast infections and UTIs occur in the same area, but the symptoms are very different.
What is the difference between a yeast infection and bacterial vaginosis?
Bacterial vaginosis (BV) and vaginal yeast infections have similar symptoms, but different causes and treatments. Both cause inflammation of the vagina, or vaginitis.
One of the differences between BV and a yeast infection is that BV produces a foul-smelling, fishy odor, while a yeast infection produces no vaginal odor. Additionally, a yeast infection may cause redness and inflammation of the vulva, while BV doesn’t produce such symptoms.
To determine whether a vaginal infection is BV or a yeast infection, a doctor may:
- ask about your medical history, including previous vaginal infections, which may have been sexually transmitted
- perform an examination to look for signs of infection and vaginal discharge
- take a sample of the discharge for analysis to see whether overgrowth of harmful bacteria or fungi is present
- test the pH of the vagina—a pH of
4.5or above can indicate BV
Home remedies may or may not work to treat a 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 with a doctor about more natural approaches to prevention and treatment. It’s also best to see a healthcare professional if you’ve never had a yeast infection before.
Keep in mind that any product, natural or otherwise, may irritate sensitive vaginal skin. Stop using the remedy and call a doctor if you experience any irritation or discomfort.
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