Helping you with answers to your medicine related questions.
Let’s talk about the itch. You know, that itch down there in your pants. And before you think your itch is your own damned disorder I need you to know that vaginal thrush is a common ailment in most women. According to Medscape, 3 outof every 4 women experience at least one bout of vulvovaginal candidiasisduring their lifetime. It’s nothing to be embarrassed about! Genital Candidiasis/Thrush is a very common infection in the vagina (or penis) caused by an overgrowth the fungus Candida albicans. This fungus naturally occurs on the skin and in the intestines from where it’s easily transferred to the genitals.
Some people are just more susceptible to candidiasis than others. A number of people even have recurrent episodes up to 4 more times a year. There can be factors that make this infection to occur in individuals such as;
- Prolonged antibiotic use. Antibiotics are used to kill bacterial infections but if used for a long duration they can eliminate the good bacteria lactobacillusthat helps curb fungus in the vagina. A probiotic supplement can help prevent a thrush in patients taking an antibiotic.
- Cortisones used for inflammatory disorders also have the tendency to allow proliferation of fungi when used for a long period of time or at high doses. They can weaken the body’s immune system.
- Diabetics are vulnerable to recurrent fungal infections as high blood sugar levels support the growth of fungi.
- Immunosuppressed patients such the HIV infected as well patients undergoing cancer treatment are also susceptible to fungal infections.
- Pregnant women
- Women on oral contraceptives or hormonal therapy
- Foreign devices such as the intra-uterine device that have been recently placed in the body can result in a fungal infection.
- In other women, a vaginal infection occurs every time they get their period due to hormonal changes that occur in the body.
Affected women have an itch or severe irritation in the vagina and vulva as well as a light odorless discharge. The vaginal wall is usually covered with white cheese-like material and the skin can be reddish and swollen.
Fortunately, candidiasis can be treated easily without necessarily visiting the doctor. Clotrimazole (Canestan, Canalba or Candispor-V) and miconazole (Daktarin) creams and pessaries are readily available over-the-counter at the pharmacy to combat this fungal infection. They are inserted in the vagina to work locally on the affected area. In more severe and repeated cases, medications such as fluconazole or itraconazole that are taken orally are available with a prescription from the doctor.
Alternatives for infections that could be both antibacterial and antifungal can be treated with povidone iodine (Betadine) or Gentian Violet. Probiotics and other natural supplements such as Kolorex are also available to take as a prophylaxis for recurring cases of Candidiasis. Don’t let your itch cause you nightmares.
Stay in the know. I’ll keep you informed.