Being uncomfortable is never nice, especially if you’re itchy or irritated, and it gets worse if the source of the itch is in one of those more embarrassing ‘hard to scratch in public’ areas.
Thrush is a common infection that occurs in men and women. It’s caused by normally harmless bacteria and if left unchecked can cause a number of symptoms, from itching to discharge.
Thankfully there are a range of ways to treat the symptoms and a number of ways you can help reduce irritation and make yourself more comfortable.
Dealing with Thrush
The easiest way to treat thrush is with medical treatment. Either visit your GP to get the infection diagnosed and a prescription for a treatment, or if you recognise the symptoms pick something up from the chemist.
Treatments are usually a tablet, pessary or a cream. These normally involve an antifungal agent to help deal with the cause of the infection and also help to soothe any irritation and reduce itching.
Treating thrush is usually pretty quick, you might only need a single tablet or a week of using a cream for instance. The important thing to be mindful of is if symptoms persist or keep reoccurring. If this is the case, then you should go back to your GP.
Improving air circulation can be really helpful in reducing the effects of thrush and helping to reduce the uncomfortable feeling that normally goes along with the infection.
The clothes you wear can be a big influence over how well you deal with the infection. Wearing less restrictive clothes like skirts, for example, can be a huge help. You should avoid tight clothes, like tights, jeans and leggings, as they can restrict the flow of air around the infected area.
You should wear more breathable fabrics if possible too. Opting for cotton underwear for a few days for instance is much more beneficial to wearing something that contains Lycra or a closer-knit fabric.
Keep an eye on your diet when you’re dealing with thrush. The infection can occur if you’re on antibiotics, or if you’ve recently been ill or have a condition such as diabetes which can compromise your immune system.
You should try to reduce the amount of processed sugar in your diet, and instead increase your intake of fruits and vegetables which are high in important vitamins and minerals. Pay special attention to citrus fruits and garlic which are often seen as useful when dealing with thrush for helping to fight off the infection.
The NHS website recommends several ways that you can improve your cleaning regimen to reduce irritation and help to prevent thrush returning.
While you’re dealing with the infection it is recommended that you avoid having a long soak in the bath. The bacteria that causes the infection is a type of yeast – and yeast thrives in areas that are damp. Instead switch to showers until the symptoms have cleared which can really help to reduce the irritation you feel.
When it comes to cleaning the affected area, guidelines also suggest avoiding using shower gels and soaps. Instead just use clean water and an emollient such as E45 cream.
Finally, after you’ve finished in the shower you need to make sure you dry yourself properly. Make sure you’re thoroughly dried, but be careful to not dry overly vigorously and irritate the area further.
While these might not help get rid of thrush, there are a couple of home remedies that sufferers claim help reduce irritation and to alleviate the symptoms.
- Baths with salt or vinegar – there is a belief that diluting a small amount of salt or cider vinegar into a shallow bath can help rebalance the pH on the skin and reduce irritation
- Applying natural yoghurt, honey or cider vinegar to the affected area for a few hours before washing – again this is believed to soothe the irritation, however you need to be sure you wash properly afterwards or the irritation could get worse
Taking the time to get the right treatment is always the best option. Be that talking to your pharmacist or GP to get advice or a prescription.
If you aren’t sure about your symptoms, or aren’t sure if you have thrush or not, then you should contact your doctor before you start to treat your irritation, just in case it is not thrush but a different gynaecological condition.