Understanding And Preventing Thrush
“Avoid using disinfectants for washing clothes and private parts as it disturbs the normal protective flora of your body”
More than 50 per cent women get thrush once in their life time and in most of the cases there are no particular reasons for it. Though the exact cause of thrush is not known, some women get recurrent bouts of this infection and some are more prone to get this infection. Recurrent thrush would mean getting the infection more than tour times in a year.
What Is It?
Thrush is a fungal infection specially caused by the candida species. When it occurs in the mouth, it is called oral thrush and vaginal or vulval thrush if it affects the vagina or vulva. The most common species of fungus that causes thrush is candida albicans. However, it is also caused by other species such as glabrata and tropicalis in some cases.
Candida loves to grow in moist, warm and non-airy areas of the body and this is the reason why vaginal and vulval candidiasis are most common. But other areas may also be affected such as the groin, mouth and additional skin surfaces. A baby could also contract thrush in the areas of the skin that comes in contact with nappies.
Diagnosis of vaginal thrush is usually done by a vaginal examination by the gynaecologist. As the discharge has a very typical character, it can easily be diagnosed clinically without doing any test. Usually there are several types of vaginal discharges due to bacterial, fungal or protozoal causes, so it must be examined by a gynaecologist to arrive at a final diagnosis. Sometimes, the doctor may take a swab for definitive diagnosis when it seems to be a mixed type of infection. It can also be sent for culture sensitivity to know the specific antibiotic to be given. It is advised not to indulge in self-diagnosis and treatment.
- White thick curdy vaginal discharge sometimes associated with itching, soreness, redness, and discomfort in and around vagina
- There is no foul smell, but if the infection is associated with a bacterial infection as well, it may have a foul smell
- Pain during intercourse
- Stinging sensation while passing urine
There are topical and oral medications available which are prescribed for treating vaginal thrush. For topical treatment there are vaginal pessaries that contain anti-fungal properties and some ointments containing anti-fungal properties. These usually contain clotrimazole, miconazole or econazole. Oral medications usually contain fluconazole or itraconazole. A single dose of fluconazole is usually prescribed for severe infections, but multiple doses may also be prescribed.
- Immune compromised states such as pregnancy, patients on chemotherapy, patients taking high doses of steroids
- Uncontrolled diabetes
- Unhygienic personal habits
- Under antibiotic medication
When To Seek Medical Advice
- If infected with thrush for the first time
- You are less than 16 or more than 60 years of age
- You are pregnant
- Have two episodes of thrush within six months
- You have an unusual vaginal discharge associated with a bad smell, soreness or itching
- Reaction to an anti-fungal medicine prescribed last time
- Your symptoms don’t improve after 7-14 days of treatment
- You have a previous history of sexually transmitted disease
Prevention And Remedies
- Avoid using deodorants in your private parts
- Avoid wearing tight and non-airy underclothing
- Avoid wearing nylon underclothes and wear cotton underwear
- Wash and dry your underwear properly so as to avoid dampness
- Avoid using disinfectants for washing clothes and private parts as it disturbs the normal protective flora of your body
- Be sure that your sugar levels are controlled, if you are diabetic
- Natural remedies such as inserting yogurt in the vagina and having a bath in water mixed with soda- bicarbonate have no scientific basis at present, but some women use these methods and they say it helps relieve their symptoms
- There are some products available for washing the private parts with added lactobacillus.
- However, there is no evidence supporting their benefits but neither is there any evidence stating their harmful effects as well.
- Vaginal thrush has not been classified as a STI (Sexually Transmitted Infection), but can be triggered by sex, particularly if you are not relaxed and your vagina is dry- It can then be passed on to your partner.
- Meet your gynaecologist as soon as possible it you have noticed any kind of vaginal discharge which is associated with itching or bad odour.