Few health issues are as irritating (figuratively and literally) as yeast infections. However, yeast infections are extremely common—nearly 75% of women experience at least one in their lifetime, according to the Centers for Disease Control. While yeast infections most often affect the vaginal area, they can also develop in other areas of the body such as the throat, mouth, or gut (where the Candida fungus that causes such infections naturally occurs).
"Yeast infection is caused by an organism called Candida, and the most common species is Albicans," explains Dr. Adeeti Gupta, founder of Walk In GYN Care. "There are other species also, such as Candida glabrata. Yeast infection is caused when there is a disruption in the vaginal protective mechanisms due to various factors such as depressed immune function, altered pH or some other factors altering the vaginal health such as antibiotics."
A yeast infection can trigger a range of symptoms, including itchiness, soreness, inflammation, and general discomfort. To get your health back on track, we've rounded up six of the most effective home remedies to soothe yeast infections—though it's worth noting that Gupta says the best remedy is a nutritious diet. "The best natural remedy is to help promote and maintain vaginal health by keeping an optimal pH, which can be done best by consuming good probiotics and antioxidants, having a low sugar and low carb diet and maintaining a healthy vagina regimen," says Gupta, who specifically says she does not recommend using "any vinegar or products in the vagina." As always, any lingering infections should always be examined by your doctor.
You Can Try Coconut Oil
FYI, coconut oil is an antifungal ingredient, meaning it can help to treat yeast infections at home. Gently apply coconut oil to the affected area three times daily and before you go to bed. You can also swish the coconut oil around your mouth for about 10 minutes in the case of an oral infection.
Some Experts Swear by Yogurt
Plain, unsweetened, and unflavored yogurt can work wonders when it comes to addressing yeast infections. Yogurt contains a bacterial strain called lactobacillus acidophilus, which helps curb the infection. Doctors don't recommend applying directly to the affected area, but you might consider adding yogurt to your diet, as it can help regulate the body internally.
Try Apple Cider Vinegar
When it comes to boosting health, apple cider vinegar is borderline miraculous. Gupta specifically advises against applying apple cider vinegar to the vagina, but anecdotal evidence suggests that ingesting ACV can lead to positive benefits.
Try Consuming Garlic
Eat Cranberries, Which Are Antibacterial and Antifungal
Cranberries are one of the most common (and most effective) home remedies for yeast infections. Both antibacterial and antifungal, this powerful fruit can be consumed as a juice (organic and unsweetened is best) or via cranberry tablets.
Try Tea Tree Oil
As a component of the best natural facial cleansers, shampoos, and skin treatments, tea tree oil is often turned to for the treatment of infections. Though doctors don't recommend applying tea tree oil directly to a yeast infection, anecdotal evidence suggests a bit of tea tree oil in a bath can produce a soothing result.
While the natural remedies here can alleviate symptoms, they shouldn't be considered cure-all's. Always consult a doctor for the best solutions based on your health needs.