Thrush – or vaginal candidiasis – is caused by the overgrowth of a yeast-like fungus, called candida albicans, in your vagina. Normally the ‘good’ bacteria (known as lactobacilli) in our bodies keep this fungus under control but, when they don't, it can increase and cause problems.
Symptoms of thrush may be mild or more uncomfortable, and can include a sore or itchy vagina or vulva (the entrance to your vagina), swelling of the labia (the lips of your vagina) and a thick, usually odourless, white cottage-cheese-like discharge. You may also experience some pain during sex or when you pee, or the skin around your vagina may become red, swollen or cracked.
Although thrush can be uncomfortable, it’s usually easy to treat with anti-fungal medication from your pharmacy. Treatments are varied, and can include capsules, local applications in the form of internal creams, pessaries or soft gel pessaries, or a combination of internal treatments and external cream to help soothe the itching.
Canesten has a range of over-the-counter products that can relieve thrush, such as Canesten Thrush Duo Oral Capsule & External Cream, which contains an oral capsule to clear the infection and an external cream to calm the itching.
In some cases, such as when you are pregnant or breastfeeding, or if it's the first time you're suffering from this condition, you should visit your doctor who will give you a diagnosis. It is worth remembering that thrush is not a sexually transmitted infection, but it can be passed between sexual partners, so you may both need treatment.
You're more likely to get thrush if…
1. Your jeans are too tight
If you like your jeans close-fitting, slip into Lycra for cycling or the gym, often wear tights or synthetic materials, particularly underwear, you may find you're more prone to thrush.
• Why tight clothes increase the risk of thrush: The Candida yeast loves to grow in a warm, moist environment with little access to oxygen, which is exactly what close-fitting clothes provide.
• Our suggestion: Opt for natural fabrics and loose styles so your skin can breathe and air can circulate. Floaty skirts and trousers are ideal, as are loose-fitting cotton pants – or, better still, silk undies! Also always change your underwear after working out or swimming.
2. You have been taking antibiotics
If you've just completed a course of antibiotics, you are more likely to be susceptible to thrush.
• Why antibiotics increase the risk of thrush: While antibiotics prescribed by your doctor are serving an important purpose they can disturb the balance of your vaginal microflora, which can sometimes lead to a thrush infection.
• Our suggestion: If you have any questions about antibiotics or their uses, it's best to speak to your doctor.
3. You have too many bubble baths
Bubble bath is fun, but it's but it can disturb the natural balance of your vaginal microflora. The same goes for bath oils, scented soaps, shower gels or certain vaginal deodorants. You could instead use specifically designed feminine cleansing products like Canesfresh Gentle Refreshing Mousse, a soap-free feminine wash that helps to maintain a healthy balance of microflora in your intimate area by maintaining the natural pH.
• Why bath products increase the risk of thrush: Perfumes and other substances contained in these products can irritate the vagina and alter the pH balance, allowing yeast to grow.
• Our suggestion: Avoid bubble baths and wash once a day using water and an unperfumed soap substitute.
4. You're feeling run down
If you've been feeling unwell, perhaps because you have a chronic illness or your immune system is currently weak, you may be unlucky enough to have the added irritation of thrush.
• Why being poorly increases your risk of thrush: In normal circumstances the body maintains a healthy balance naturally, but if you've been unwell, the balance of your intimate area can be disturbed.
• How to prevent a weak immune system causing thrush: Do all you can to help yourself – reduce your stress levels as much as you can, get plenty of sleep, eat a healthy well-balanced diet with plenty of fruit and veg, and exercise. It may also be a good idea to take some immune support supplements, but check this with your GP first.
5. You're pregnant
Pregnancy can make you bloom, but it can also make you more prone to getting thrush.
• Why pregnancy increases the risk of thrush: When you're pregnant, it’s completely natural for your hormones to change and affect your body – so your chances of getting thrush increase.
• Our suggestion: You'll need to visit your GP, who may prescribe pessaries or a cream, or a combination of these.
Medicines can affect an unborn baby. Always talk to your doctor or pharmacist before taking any medicine in pregnancy
Canesten Thrush Combi contains Clotrimazole. Canesten Thrush Duo contains Clotrimazole and Fluconazole. Always read the label.
- For more information, see canesten.co.uk