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Vaginal thrush

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Overview of vaginal thrush

Vaginal thrush is a vaginal infection caused by yeast or fungus. The yeast which causes vaginal thrush is known as Candida albicans. Vaginal thrush is also called as vaginal candidiasis, which is a distressing complaint among women.1 It also occurs in pregnant women. Yeast resides on the moist areas of the body such as the mouth, vagina, anus and penis. Itching with reddish sore is commonly seen in the affected regions. Thick white yellow discharges at the site of infection may also be noted.2 Vaginal thrush occurs in 75% of the women once in their lifetime. Antifungal medications are most commonly prescribed for the infection.3

What are the signs and symptoms of vaginal thrush?

Common signs and symptoms of vaginal thrush seen include the thick, white curd like (cotton cheese) discharge from the vagina. Itching and irritation exists in and around vagina. Pain occurs during urination and intercourse. Vaginal lips appear red and inflamed. In severe cases, ulceration occur which may lead to bacterial infections.1

What are the causes for vaginal thrush?

Women aged 15 to 55 are more prone to the infection.Vaginal thrush is caused by the overgrowth of yeast called Candida albicans. Risk factors that are commonly associated with increased occurrence of vaginal thrush include pregnancy, diabetes mellitus, iron deficiency anaemia, immunological deficiency such as HIV and psoriasis. Medication such as broad spectrum antibiotics like tetracycline, amoxicillin and also high doses of oral contraceptive pill leads to vaginal thrush as a result of pH imbalance in the vaginal regions.4

How vaginal thrush is diagnosed?

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Diagnosis is carried out by inspecting the affected area and by recognizing the clinical appearance of rashes and thick white discharges. The pH of the vaginal discharge will often be less than 4.5. The diagnosis is confirmed by vaginal swab which helps in detecting the presence of the yeast. The sample of the vaginal discharge is collected and examined under the microscope to identify the yeast or fungus. 5 Pelvic examinations is done to find the recurrence of infection.1

What are the treatments for vaginal thrush?

Home care measures such as application of boric acid, garlic or betadine are recommended for the treatment. Bathing with salt water reduces itching and irritations.

Drug of choice prescribed for the treatment are antifungal creams or suppositories. Commonly prescribed medications are butoconazole, miconazole, terconazole, clotrimazole, nystatin and tioconazole. Most of these medications affect the yeast equally. If one does not work another should be tried. Flucanazole and ketoconazole responds better for the treatment. Acidic gels are also used to maintain the pH balance in vagina.

How vaginal thrush is prevented?

Healthy diet with good nutrition should be followed. Limiting the intake of sugar and sweet products has been reported to be beneficial in some instances. Loose fitting cotton clothes should be worn. Using perfumed feminine hygiene sprays increase the chances of infection and hence should be avoided. Tampons should be avoided in moist places. After bowel movement, wipe properly with toilet paper, with care taken to wipe from front to the back.1, 6

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Reference:

1.Gays Mens Health Crisis. Vaginal Thrush.[updated : 2003;cited : November 2009]. Available at: http://www.gmhc.org/health/treatment/factsheets/vagth.html.

2.Young G, Jewell D. Topical treatment for vaginal candidiasis (thrush) in pregnancy. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2001, Issue 4. Art. No.: CD000225. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD000225.

3.Chapple A. Vaginal thrush: perceptions and experiences of women of South Asian descent. Health Education Research, 2001; 16(1): 9-19.

4.Oakley A. New Zealand Dermatological Society Incorporated.Vulvovaginal [updated:  Oct 2009; cited: November 2009]. Available at: http://dermnetnz.org/fungal/vaginal-candidiasis.html.

5.The Merck Manual Online Medical Library. Candidiasis. [updated: August 2008; cited: November 2009].Available at:   http://www.merck.com/mmhe/sec18/ch212/ch212b.html.

6.Medic8.com.VAGINAL THRUSH (CANDIDA). [citied: November 2009]. Available at: http://www.medic8.com/healthguide/articles/vaginalthrush.html.

Written by: healthplus24.com team

Date last updated: February 06, 2015