What is a Yeast Infection?
Vaginal yeast infection also known as candidiasis is a common condition on women usually caused by a fungus called Candida albicans. According to estimates, three in every four women will experience a yeast infection at some point during their lives.
Healthy vaginas are home to some bacteria and also small numbers of yeast cells but when too many of these yeast cells grow in the vagina, a yeast infection occurs. Although these yeast infections are troublesome and may worry you, they are not usually very serious and treatment is easy enough. With proper treatment, the symptoms of a yeast infection can disappear within days or a few weeks at most.
What Causes a Yeast Infection?
The vast majority of yeast infections are caused by a fungus called Candida albicans. While a small amount of yeast cells can be found in the healthy vagina, it also has bacteria.
One particular bacteria found in the vagina called Lactobacillus acidophilus helps to keep yeast and other organisms under control. When the balance of these organisms is thrown off, yeast may multiply too much causing a number of symptoms. Some of the reasons for this imbalance include:
- Taking antibiotics.
- Elevated estrogen levels during pregnancy or women undergoing hormone therapy.
- Certain health conditions including diabetes and HIV.
- Alcohol consumption.
- Weak immune systems.
- Stress and insufficient sleep.
What are the Symptoms?
Vaginal yeast infections come with a number of common symptoms including the following:
- Itching of the vagina.
- Swelling in the vaginal area.
- A burning sensation while urinating.
- Pain or burning during intercourse.
- Redness and soreness.
- Vaginal discharge which can vary in consistency.
Can a Man get a Yeast Infection?
While it is relatively uncommon, it is still possible for a man to get a yeast infection through unprotected sex with a female who has candidal vaginitis. In men, a yeast infection normally presents itself on the penis in the form of small white colored spots and redness or a peeling rash. This is accompanied by burning or itching. Uncircumcised men are at greater risk of developing a yeast infection.
How is a Yeast Infection Treated?
Women who have previously had a yeast infection and therefore recognize their symptoms can actually treat themselves at home provided they are not pregnant. Anti-fungal creams and suppositories to treat yeast infections are available over the counter without the need for a prescription. Anti-fungal tablets are also available.
The condition is usually easy enough to treat, should clear up fairly quickly and does not cause any long term effects.
Women who are pregnant should not use any medicines for their yeast infection without consulting their doctor first.
Essential Oils For Yeast Infections
Apart from the traditional anti-fungal medications there are a range of natural remedies that you could try to help clear up your infection quickly and safely. The advantage of natural remedies is that they are safer than the chemical laden pharmaceutical options while often being just as effective.
One remedy that you could try at home is treating your condition with essential oils. A number of these natural oils have proven, powerful anti-fungal effects which can help treat your symptoms safely and naturally. You can read a full review of the best anti-fungal oils here.
Here are some of the best essential oils that you can use to treat your yeast infection.
1) Tea Tree Essential Oil (Melaleuca)
Tea tree essential oil which is derived from Australia’s Maleluca plant has a wide variety of health benefits. According to research, it has excellent anti-fungal properties and the ability to treat yeast infections like vaginal candidiasis.
A number of in vitro studies ihave demonstrated just how potent tea tree oil can be to yeast and fungus. A very recent study published in 2015 demonstrated that tea tree essential oil was effective against vaginal candidiasis be cause it helped inhibit the replication and growth of Candida cells. (1)
2) Oregano Essential Oil (Origanum sp.)
Maybe best known for its culinary uses, oregano offers so much more and when it comes to Candida, oregano essential oil has no equal. It possesses extremely powerful anti-fungal properties which have proven deadly under the microscope to a wide range of fungi.
Research published in 2008 demonstrated that oregano was extremely effective against several Candida strains. (2) As well as being able to treat vaginal yeast infection, oregano oil is also an excellent natural remedy for nail fungus and athlete’s foot.
3) Thyme Essential Oil (Thymus vulgaris)
Thyme essential oil is another extremely effective remedy for a yeast infection. The same study mentioned above which compared the effectiveness of a number of essential oils against yeast infections had thyme essential oil in second place behind only oregano.
As well as being an extremely powerful anti-fungal oil, thyme has strong antibacterial qualities. Despite its myriad uses, you should be very careful when using thyme essential oil. It is among the more powerful oils and must be well diluted before use.
4) Cinnamon Essential Oil (Cinnamomum zeylanicum)
Cinnamon oil is yet another essential oil with extremely potent anti-fungal properties. Studies have demonstrated that cinnamon essential oil is effective against the candida fungus responsible for the majority of yeast infections.
Like any essential oils, it is important that you dilute it well before topical use. It is also a very powerful oil so you should also take care when inhaling directly or diffusing because it can irritate the nasal passages.
5) Clove Essential Oil (Syzygium aromaticum)
Clove essential oil is another excellent oil to add to your collection especially if you are having trouble with yeast infections and other fungal conditions. Studies have found that clove oil is effective against 15 forms of fungus including Candida albicans.
According to research, clove essential oil contains carvacrol and eugenol which proved to be effective against vaginal yeast. (3)
6) Lemongrass Essential Oil ( Cymbopogon citratus)
Lemongrass oil is a fragrant oil with a wide variety of medicinal uses. According to research, it is a very effective, natural remedy for various fungal infections including vaginal yeast infections caused by Candida.
Research conducted in 2014 was done to evaluate the antifungal effects of the oil as well as its anti-inflammatory properties. When tested against various fungi and yeast including Candida albicans, it proved to be extremely effective. The authors of the paper concluded that lemongrass oil had great potential as both an anti-inlammatory and anti-fungal medication. (4)
How to Use Essential Oils for Yeast infections
So, you have chosen your essential oil; what is the best way to use them to treat your yeast infection?
There are actually several different ways to use them and the following are the most effective.
1) Vaginal Douche
You can make a vaginal douche with a few drops of your chosen essential oil but it must be well-diluted.
Add between 5 and 10 drops of oil to a liter of water then use it as a douche every morning and again before bed.
2) Essential Oil Bath
Another way to use your essential oils is to ad them to your bath. Simply run the water, and add 10 drops of your favorite oil to the tub. Make sure that the water has finished running before you add the oils to avoid losing their value through evaporation.
3) Apply Directly
You can also apply your oils directly into the vagina. If you are going to do this, it is very important that you dilute your oils well beforehand. Use a suitable base oil like extra virgin coconut oil, sweet almond or jojoba. It is best to start with a more dilute concentration to ensure against reactions.