- Fastest Treatments for Yeast Infection: OTC & Prescription
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If you’ve ever dealt with a vaginal yeast infection, then you know that your number one priority is getting rid of it - fast. Vaginal yeast infections are a common condition that affect millions of people each year, and they’re accompanied by a range of irritating symptoms such as itching, pain, and vaginal redness and swelling.
Thankfully, there are treatment options available that can help alleviate your symptoms quickly. In this blog, we’ll explore some frequently asked questions about vaginal yeast infection causes, symptoms, and both over-the-counter and prescription medication options to help you make an informed decision about which approach is best suited for your needs.
What is a vaginal yeast infection?
A vaginal yeast infection, also known as vaginal candidiasis or vulvovaginal candidiasis, is a fungal infection most often caused by an overgrowth of Candida yeast in the vagina. Candida yeast is a type of fungus that exists naturally in small amounts within your vagina, mouth, and digestive tract. It normally lives in harmony with bacteria and other organisms without causing any harm. However, when there is an imbalance in the body, the yeast can multiply and lead to an infection.
Typical causes of vaginal yeast infections can include:
- Antibiotic use: Antibiotics can kill off the beneficial bacteria that help maintain the balance of yeast in the vagina, leading to an overgrowth of Candida.
- Hormonal changes: Fluctuations in hormone levels due to pregnancy, oral contraceptives, or hormone replacement therapy can disrupt the balance of yeast in the vagina.
- Weakened immune system: Individuals with a compromised immune system, such as those with HIV or undergoing chemotherapy, are at a higher risk of developing yeast infections.
- Diabetes: Those with diabetes – both type 1 and type 2 – are more susceptible to yeast infections due to elevated blood sugar levels, which can encourage yeast growth.
- Douching or feminine hygiene products: Douching and feminine hygiene sprays are a major cause of vaginal infections, as they can throw off your vagina’s natural balance and lead to an imbalance of bacteria. Don’t be fooled by claims that the products are cleansing - vaginas are actually self-cleaning and do not require fragrant sprays or soaps to stay hygienic!
Damp or tight clothing: Wearing damp or tight clothing, such as wet swimsuits or tight leggings, can create a warm and moist environment that promotes yeast growth. Cotton underwear are a great way to avoid this occurrence, as cotton fabric is breathable and absorbs moisture.
Vaginal yeast infections are typically characterized by the following symptoms:
- Itching and irritation in the vaginal area
- Redness and swelling of the vulva
- Vaginal pain and soreness
- A burning sensation, especially during urination or sexual intercourse
- Thick, white, and odorless vaginal discharge, often described as resembling cottage cheese
If you suspect that you have a vaginal yeast infection, it's important to consult a healthcare provider for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment. Vaginal symptoms like the ones listed above can also be indicators of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), bacterial vaginosis, or other health conditions, so a medical diagnosis from a gynecologist or other healthcare provider is essential for proper treatment.
What are my treatment options for vaginal yeast infections?
If you’re dealing with a vaginal yeast infection, there are several treatment options to consider.
Vaginal Therapy: There are over-the-counter and prescription antifungal medications available that will usually clear a yeast infection. These are typically sold as creams (which come with an applicator to be inserted into the vagina) or as suppositories, small objects which are placed into the vagina and melt over time to dispense the medication. For mild to moderate infections, vaginal therapy is typically short term (anywhere from 1-7 days). For more severe or recurring infections, longer-term vaginal therapy is sometimes recommended (medication is taken daily for two weeks followed by once a month for 6 months).
Oral Antifungals: Your healthcare provider may prescribe an oral tablet which can be taken as a one-time, single oral dose of fluconazole (Diflucan) or as several doses taken three days apart for more severe or recurring infections.
Natural Remedies: Some people opt for home remedies when treating their yeast infections. Some common options include:
- Boric acid suppositories: Boric acid has antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory effects, and the suppositories are commonly sold over-the-counter at pharmacies. It’s critical that these are not ingested orally.
- Garlic pills: Garlic is a natural antifungal. However, studies have generally demonstrated that garlic is not effective at treating vaginal yeast infections.
- Yogurt: Many types of yogurt contain probiotics (also known as good bacteria), including the strain Lactobacillus. Lactobacillus is thought to fight off certain bacteria that may contribute to yeast infections.There haven’t, however, been great studies to support this as an effective course of treatment.
Remember that home remedies are not always backed by clinical trials, so it’s best to talk to a healthcare professional if you think that you have a yeast infection and are in need of treatment.
What is the fastest way to get rid of a vaginal yeast infection?
Over-the-counter or prescription medications are generally considered to be the fastest and most effective treatment option for vaginal yeast infections. The majority of vaginal yeast infection medications belong to a category of antifungals known as azoles, which work by stopping the growth of yeast. These treatments come in the form of vaginal creams or vaginal suppositories which are inserted into the vagina to fight off the yeast infection, or as oral antifungal pills which are taken by mouth. They can take anywhere from 1 to 7 days to treat your symptoms and infection depending on the form and dosage.
What are my options for over-the-counter vaginal yeast infection medications?
You can purchase some creams and gels over the counter to treat your vaginal yeast infection and/or relieve uncomfortable symptoms such as burning, swelling, and itching. Examples of OTC vaginal yeast infection medications include:
- Miconazole (Monistat): Miconazole, commonly known by the brand name Monistat, is an antifungal that is sold over-the-counter at most pharmacies and is available as Monistat 1, 3, & 7. The numbers correlate with the dosage, so Monistat 1 is a single-dose, highly-concentrated option, while Monistat 7 is taken over the span of a week and is the least concentrated option. Monistat is able to treat most yeast infections and claims to offer symptom relief within 1 hour. It comes as a cream or suppository which is inserted into the vagina to kill the yeast that are causing your infection. If you are pregnant, talk to your doctor before using yeast infection medicine. Only topical 7-day therapies (such as Monistat-7) are recommended for treating yeast infections during pregnancy.
- Clotrimazole (generic Gyne-Lotrimin): Vaginal clotrimazole, also known under the brand names Trivagizole or Gyne-Lotrimin, comes as a cream to be inserted into the vagina. It can be applied to the skin around the outside of the vagina and is available over-the-counter and via prescription. Clotrimazole usually begins to relieve symptoms within 3 days, and should improve your infection within 7 days. There are also stronger clotrimazole products available via prescription.
- Tioconazole (Vagistat-1): Tioconazole is a vaginal yeast infection medication that treats the infection by stopping the growth of Candida within the vagina. It comes as an single-dose applicator that is inserted into the vagina so that the medication can be dispensed. The medication can also be applied to the vulva to relieve itching or burning. Patients typically see symptom improvement after the 1-day treatment, but it can take up to 7 days after using the 1-day dose before symptoms go away completely.
Vagisil: While it does not treat vaginal yeast infections, Vagisil can be a great solution for itch and odor relief, especially if you aren’t able to immediately see a healthcare professional for a prescription strength medication. It contains analgesic (pain-relieving) ingredients and typically begins to relieve symptoms immediately. Be wary that some Vagisil products have fragrances, so be on the lookout for the scent-free products to avoid further irritation.
While you can also purchase probiotic supplements over-the-counter, remember that these products can’t treat a yeast infection. Although probiotics promote a healthy microbiome, they do not cure or relieve symptoms.
What are my options for prescription vaginal yeast infection medications?
If over-the-counter medication is not helping to alleviate your vaginal yeast infection symptoms, you may want to consider prescription medication. Some examples of prescription vaginal yeast infection medications include:
- Terconazole: Terconazole is an antifungal medication that is prescribed as a cream and suppository to insert into the vagina. Terconazole should take effect within 5 to 10 hours after being inserted into the vagina, and symptoms should improve within 1 or 2 days after starting the medication.
- Clotrimazole: Vaginal clotrimazole is available both in OTC and prescription form and comes in the form of a tablet or medicated cream which are inserted into the vagina with an applicator. The prescription form of clotrimazole is more concentrated and typically begins to relieve symptoms within 3 days, and should improve your infection within 7 days.
- Fluconazole: Your healthcare provider may prescribe a one-time oral dose of fluconazole (Diflucan) to treat your yeast infection. Oral vaginal yeast infection medications like fluconazole should not be taken if you are pregnant, as it can harm the fetus. Symptom improvement is usually seen within 1 to 3 days.
- Ibrexafungerp: Ibrexafungerp is an oral tablet that is taken twice a day for one day. It works by targeting the specific fungal cells behind the yeast infection. As with fluconazole, taking ibrexafungerp while pregnant can cause loss of pregnancy or serious birth defects. You should use effective birth control methods during treatment with ibrexafungerp and for 4 months after.
Oteseconazole: Oteseconazole is an oral medication that is used to treat recurring yeast infections, also known as recurrent vulvovaginal candidiasis. It is prescribed as an oral capsule and cannot be taken in women who are pregnant or who could become pregnant due to risk of miscarriage or birth defects.
What are the side effects of yeast infection medication?
Common side effects of prescription vaginal yeast infection medications include:
- Mild burning or irritation: When using antifungal creams or suppositories, some women may experience mild burning or irritation in the vaginal area.
- Skin rash: Some individuals may develop a skin rash as a result of an allergic reaction or sensitivity to the medication.
- Gastrointestinal symptoms: Oral antifungal medications, such as fluconazole, may cause gastrointestinal side effects like nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, or gas.
- Headache: Both oral and topical antifungal medications can sometimes cause headaches as a side effect.
- Dizziness: Oral antifungal medications may cause dizziness in some individuals. It is essential to exercise caution while driving or performing activities that require alertness if you experience dizziness.
- Changes in taste: Some people taking oral antifungal medications may notice changes in their sense of taste, which usually resolve after completing the course of treatment.
It is important to note that these side effects are generally mild and temporary. However, if side effects persist, worsen, or cause significant discomfort, it is crucial to contact your healthcare provider for further guidance. In some cases, your healthcare provider may adjust the dosage or prescribe an alternative medication to minimize side effects and ensure effective treatment.
## Can I get vaginal yeast infection medication online?
Good news! If deemed clinically appropriate, providers on Sesame can write a prescription for vaginal yeast infection medication to be picked up near you – often within the same day! Simply talk to a clinician and get your online doctor prescription or refill ordered right away for fast and convenient pickup from a pharmacy of your choice.
Note that all prescriptions are at the discretion of your healthcare provider.
When to call your doctor
You should contact your healthcare provider as soon as you notice symptoms of a yeast infection, as it’s important to diagnose that you have a yeast infection and not another more serious infection. Vaginal yeast infections can share symptoms such as itching, burning, genital swelling, and discharge with other infections like bacterial vaginosis and certain sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
You should also contact your healthcare provider if over-the-counter or prescription medication is not resolving your symptoms, or if you are experiencing side effects such as trouble breathing, rapid heartbeat, hives, or other conditions that cannot be otherwise explained while taking your medication.
If you are experiencing vaginal yeast infection symptoms, booking an appointment with a doctor or nurse online is typically the fastest way to address your infection. Sesame offers same-day appointments, along with online doctor prescription and prescription refill appointments with board-certified healthcare professionals. Simply browse services on Sesame, set up an appointment with a real doctor or clinician at your convenience, and get the care you need.
- Jallow, Sabelle. Ibrexafungerp: A First-in-Class Oral Triterpenoid Glucan Synthase Inhibitor. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7996284.
- White, Kate. How can I stop getting so many yeast infections?. mcpress.mayoclinic.org/women-health/how-can-i-stop-getting-so-many-yeast-infections.