tea tree leaves has been shown in several lab and animal studies to act as an antifungal against yeast. While more studies need to be done to prove the oil’s efficacy, some women report that they get yeast infection relief from inserting a tampon doused in tea tree oil at night. Try this with caution, Cullen advises: “The vagina is very sensitive, so I would hesitate to put something that might be irritating in an already irritated environment.” If you find this home remedy uncomfortable, discontinue it immediately.
Boric Acid Suppository
“For uncomplicated yeast infections, my top-shelf treatment is boric acid,” says Cullen. The substance is a natural antifungal and antiseptic, and studies have shown that it inhibits the growth of Candida albicans, the strain of yeast behind most cases of the infection, as well as other kinds, such as Candida glabrata, an increasingly common cause of infection that tends to be more resistant to other treatments. The powder, an irritant, should never be applied directly; look for a suppository capsule that contains it, such as Vitanica Yeast Arrest (sold at health-food stores), and use for only 5 to 7 days.
Cotton Underwear (or none)
A warm, moist environment may push a yeasty infection colony into overdrive, so the age-old advice—wear cotton-lined underwear, avoid panty hose and tight jeans, and change out of wet swimsuits and gym clothes right away—still stands. Or, if you’re up for it, go commando. “I’m a big fan of wearing long skirts with no underwear to let air get to the perineal area for women who have a history of chronic infections,” says Jill Rabin, MD, head of urogynecology at Long Island Jewish Medical Center and the author of Mind Over Bladder. She advises against using scented douches, body sprays, and the like, which can disrupt vaginal pH levels. Rabin also suggests showering with an unscented soap after sex (especially oral sex) to avoid letting someone else’s bacteria set up shop
The gold-standard treatment for most vaginal yeast infection cases is any one of the creams or suppositories lining drugstore shelves. These products use drugs called azoles, antifungals that have been proven to clear up 80 to 90% of yeast infections. The type of azole varies brand to brand (miconazole is used in Monistat; clotrimazole, in Gyne-Lotrimin), and treatment can span 1 to 7 days. Each is equally effective for a patient with an uncomplicated vaginal yeast infection, so buyers can choose the least expensive, says Reinhold. One other factor: If you’re particularly itchy, you may prefer a soothing cream. Women with recurrent infections, which are harder to treat, should choose the 7-day option, says Reinhold. If the infection doesn’t abate, make an appointment: A doctor can determine whether it is yeast at all, and then match the strain to the most effective medication (prescribing Terconazole cream, for example, to thwart non-albicans strains).