If you have developed an itch in your vaginal area, you may be experiencing an infection called vaginal thrush.
This is a common yeast infection that is usually caused by a fungus called Candida Albicans.
Vaginal thrush is very common – it’s estimated that about three quarters of all women will experience an outbreak of thrush at some point in their lives. While it is totally harmless, thrush can, however, be very uncomfortable.
Many people have a small amount of the Candida Albicans fungus in their bodies. Candida can be present in women without symptoms and doesn’t usually cause any problems – mainly because it’s kept under control by the body’s immune system.
On occasion, however, thrush will develop. It is particularly prevalent in women who:
have uncontrolled diabetes
have recently taken antibiotics (which weaken the good bacteria that normally fight the fungus)
use perfumed soaps and shower gels to wash their genitals
use scented sanitary towels or tampons
are pregnant (and therefore experience changing hormone levels)
have a weakened immune system due to HIV or other conditions
You will generally find that the onset of symptoms of vaginal thrush tends to be rapid, usually beginning with itching and soreness of the vulva and the vagina.
There may also be a vaginal discharge which is thick white and cheese-like, although in some women it can be colourless with no smell.
Thrush can also cause pain in the vagina during sex, a stinging sensation during urination and a vaginal discharge, although this isn’t always present.
In more severe cases, those affected can experience a red and swollen vagina and vulva, in addition to cracked skin around the entrance to the vagina and sores in the surrounding area. This is rare, but it may indicate the presence of other conditions, such as genital herpes.
While thrush doesn’t cause serious, long-term health problems, it can be unpleasant if it recurs frequently.
Our pharmacists at Toome Pharmacy are all fully trained to recognise and prescribe for vaginal thrush.
Under the Minor Ailment scheme, you will be prescribed Clotrimazole, an antifungal medicine, which is used to treat yeast infections in women.
Clotrimazole comes as an external cream, an internal cream and a pessary (a tablet which you insert into your vagina).
In some cases an oral capsule Fluconazole 150mg may be prescribed if necessary.
In most cases, treatment for vaginal thrush works well for most women, and the thrush usually clears up within a few days. Our pharmacists will be able to advise the best option for your treatment and will be able to answer any questions that you may have.
During your consultation, our pharmacist will also be able to provide you with general advice about treating vaginal thrush. They may, for example, suggest that you:
Use a soap substitute to clean your vulval area to avoid irritation
Use an emollient to moisturise the vulval skin
Avoid applying topical irritants, such as perfumed products
Wear loose-fitting underwear
Avoid washing underwear in biological washing powder and using fabric conditioners
Consider using probiotics (such as live yogurts) orally or topically, to relieve symptoms