Thrush is a yeast infection caused by a fungus called Candida albicans. It’s common and most women experience an occasional bout. The condition is fairly harmless and easy to treat but can be recurrent.
- Itchiness around vagina.
- Soreness around vagina.
- Pain during sex.
- Stinging when urinating.
- Vaginal discharge.
- Occasionally cracked skin.
What causes thrush?
Thrush is a yeast infection usually caused by a fungus called Candida albicans. This normally lives harmlessly in the vagina but if the natural balance of the vagina gets upset candida multiples leading to thrush. The natural balance can get disrupted due to various causes but common ones that trigger thrush include: taking antibiotics and hormonal changes such as during pregnancy.
How is thrush treated?
Thrush can be treated easily with anti-thrush remedies (containing anti-fungal agents) in the form of tablets, pessaries or creams available through NHS or private prescription or over-the-counter. Pessaries are inserted into the vagina with a special applicator.
Over-the-counter treatments (available without prescription) include pessaries and creams containing the anti-fungal agent clotrimazole widely sold under the brand name Canesten. A treatment in the form of a tablet, containing the anti-fungal agent fluconazole, is also available without prescription sold under the brand name Diflucan. Your pharmacist will be able to advise on the best treatment for your needs.
Lower strength creams can be applied to the genital area to soothe the itching outside the vagina, or applied to the partner’s genital area to reduce the risk of re-infection. Feminine itching can also be eased with over-the-counter vaginal itching treatment or vaginal moisturiser. Using 1% hydrocortisone cream (available over the-counter) can also provide relief.
Consult a doctor if: the itching is severe or ongoing, if you have not had thrush before, if you have had more than two attacks in the past six months or if you have any pain on passing urine or during sexual intercourse.
Alternative remedies & self-help:
- Some people find eating live yoghurt and avoiding yeast-type foods and drinks during an attack can help. Live yoghurt can also be applied directly over the vulva to ease soreness and inserted into the vagina (using a tampon). There is no firm evidence of its effectiveness, so yoghurt should not be used as the only treatment.
- Healthy eating and regular exercise will also promote good general and vaginal health.
- Wear loose-fitting clothes to let air-circulate to prevent itching and chafing.