Thrush treatment and prevention advice
Many women will be affected by vaginal thrush at some stage in their lives. It’s caused by a change in the natural balance of the body’s bacteria which may give you an itchy or burning feeling.
Vaginal thrush is a common condition caused by an overgrowth of a yeast, called candida albicans, which normally inhabits the gastrointestinal tract, skin and vagina.
Identifying the symptoms
Symptoms of vaginal thrush may include:
- Genital itching
- Irritation or burning
- A thick, white or creamy vaginal discharge
It’s important to note that not all vaginal discharge is thrush. You can discuss your symptoms with your Pharmacist in private for advice.
Men who are infected by a partner with vaginal thrush may show symptoms such as itching or redness in the groin area or on the head of the penis – a condition known as balanitis. Symptoms may be more noticeable after sex.
How to treat vaginal thrush
Treatment is available from your Pharmacist without a prescription. Antifungal medicine is used to treat vaginal thrush. It comes in the form of vaginal creams, pessaries (tablets you insert into your vagina) or capsules that are taken by mouth (fluconazole).
Symptoms should clear up within a few days of using the treatment. You may need a longer course of treatment if your vaginal thrush is difficult to treat or keeps coming back. You shouldn't use antifungal medicine more than twice in 6 months without speaking to a pharmacist or doctor.
Men can use an antifungal cream to treat thrush.
Six tips to prevent thrush
The best way to prevent thrush is to identify what triggers the condition for you. It may be helpful to:
- Always wipe from front (vagina) to the back (anus) after urinating
- Avoid deodorised panty shields, bubble bath solutions or vaginal douches
- Avoid spermicidal condoms and use only water-based lubricants
- Avoid use of soap, deodorants or talcum powder on skin around the genitals
- Take probiotics whenever you are prescribed antibiotics
- Wear loose cotton underwear and avoid tight clothing
When to see your doctor
Most cases of vaginal thrush can be treated following a consultation with your Pharmacist, however, you should seek your doctor’s advice if:
- It’s the first time you have experienced an abnormal vaginal discharge
- This is your third time getting vaginal thrush in six months
- You are or could be pregnant
- You are under 16 years of age or over 60 years of age
- You have had unprotected sex
- You have pain, fever or feel unwell
- Your symptoms have not improved after three or four days of treatment
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These good bacteria help restore the correct flora balance in the bladder and vagina and support against unwanted yeasts and bacteria.