Home Remedies for Thrush
Eight home remedies for thrush
Thrush is a yeast infection caused by a fungus called candida that is normally harmless, but can cause some uncomfortable symptoms.
If you get thrush for the first time, you should visit your GP so they can make sure it’s thrush and not another infection. If you’ve had thrush before, we recommend using antifungal thrush medications, as these are proven to be effective treatments.
Some people choose to use home remedies or “natural” thrush treatments. These involve using things that you might have a home to treat the thrush. These treatments have been studied and some show some possible benefits but they are not medically proven to be effective.
Boric acid is a chemical may help fight a fungal infection like thrush. It comes as vaginal suppository tablets (tablets you insert into your vagina). Boric acid tablets can be bought over the counter as a ‘natural’ form of thrush treatment.
Boric acid tablets are normally recommended for people who have repeat thrush infections that don’t respond to normal, first-line treatments.
One study of boric acid tablets for thrush showed a 70% reduction in thrush infections after 14 days of treatment.
Natural yoghurt and honey
You can mix your own vaginal cream using yoghurt and honey. This can be used instead of traditional medical antifungal creams, like clotrimazole cream (Canesten). Yoghurt contains bacteria than can change the environment of your vagina to make it harder for thrush to grow and honey can reduce some of the symptoms of thrush.
Studies comparing yogurt and honey vaginal cream with clotrimazole found that patients’ thrush symptoms improved after 7 to 14 days of treatment. Treatment with yogurt and honey was found to be similar to clotrimazole and in some cases was reported to be more effective in improving some vaginal symptoms.
Oregano and other herbal essential oils
Oregano and some other herbs have antifungal properties and can help slow the growth of the fungi that causes thrush infections, even in low doses.
One study published in 2016 found that mint, basil, lavender, tea tree oil, winter savory, and oregano essential oils stopped the growth of thrush infections as well clotrimazole cream.
It’s important that if you want to try herbal essential oils, you don’t use undiluted oils on the skin, or eat them.
Probiotics work in a similar way to yoghurt: they introduce other bacteria that change the environment of the genitals, making it harder for thrush to grow. Probiotic supplements can be taken orally by both men and women, or inserted vaginally as tablets.
In a previous study, women applied a probiotic vaginal tablet once a day for seven nights in a row, followed by 1 tablet every 3 nights for a further 3-weeks, and lastly 1 tablet per week to keep up long-term protection. This study showed that using lactobacilli probiotics helped more than 80% of the participants to improve their thrush symptoms.
Coconut oil can have antifungal effects and has been shown to stop the growth of the yeast that causes repeat thrush infections. Raw and organic oil can be used inside or outside the areas affected by thrush. You can also use warmed coconut oil to mix with essential oils like oregano oil.
In 2007, studies of coconut oil found that it helped kill different types of yeast. One study showed that less coconut oil was needed to get rid of yeast than a type of thrush medication called fluconazole. But, these studies haven’t been carried out on thrush infections in humans.
Tea tree oil
Tea tree extract can help kill microorganisms like the fungi that cause thrush. Studies on the effect on tea tree oil on fungi showed that the growth of the yeast is reduced in a 24-hour time period, but this wasn’t tested in humans.
You should be careful if you try using tea tree oil to treat thrush, because it can irritate the skin, and the walls of the vagina are extra sensitive. Never use undiluted tea tree oil either on the skin, or eat it.
Garlic contains a chemical called allicin, which has antibiotic effects that can be used to treat infections like thrush. Garlic can be taken orally (by mouth) raw, in cooking food, or in garlic extract or allicin tablets. You can buy garlic extract tablets over the counter. Topical garlic extract cream is also available, but most are for external use only, so you should only use them around the outside of your genital area.
It’s not currently known if garlic is able to cure a yeast infection, but garlic might be able to prevent thrush infections, or improve existing infections.
Vitamin C can help to boost your immune system and can also have an antimicrobial effect when used as a tablet. It could be used to kill the overgrowths of yeast that causes thrush, or help your immune system manage the infection better. Vitamin C is taken orally and shouldn’t be used directly on the sensitive skin around the vaginal area.
One study in 2016 explained how Vitamin C was able to kill a particular type of yeast that is common in thrush infections. But it’s not currently know what dosage of vitamin C should be used in humans to improve thrush.
Other ways to manage thrush at home
There are a few things you can do to make yourself more comfortable during a thrush infection, and prevent thrush from coming back, including:
- using water and emollients like E45 cream to wash your penis or vagina
- not using soaps or shower gels to wash the affected area
- drying the area affected by thrush properly after washing
- wearing loose-fitting cotton underwear
- avoiding sex until the thrush has cleared up
- taking showers instead of baths
- not spending long periods of time in wet clothes or swimsuits
- not using douches, or using deodorants on the vagina or penis
- cutting back on the amount of sugar and processed foods you eat
Using home remedies safely
Home remedies may or may not work as treatments for a thrush infection. They can be recommended when first-line medical thrush treatments don’t work, but in the first instance it’s important to speak to your doctor so that they can make sure there are no other causes for your symptoms . If you use herbs, supplements, or essential oils, make sure you check the quality of these products, and make sure they’re regulated for their safety and purity. One way of doing this is by only buying products for legitimate, trusted companies.
How effective a treatment is varies from person to person based on the type of infection they have and the quality of the treatment they have used. Any products you use to treat thrush can irritate sensitive vaginal skin. If you get irritation from any thrush treatment, you should stop using the product and see your doctor.
How to order thrush treatment from home
If you’ve been checked by a doctor for a thrush infection before, and you want to order treatment online, Zava can help. You can get assessed for thrush treatment by a Zava doctor online, without a face-to-face appointment. Any approved treatments can be sent to your door, and include free delivery.
To order thrush treatment online:
- Answer a few simple questions about your health and place your order
- Your order will be checked and approved if it’s right for you
- If approved, your order can be sent to you, or to a local Post Office to collect
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Bona, E. et al (2016). Sensitivity of Candida albicans to essential oils: are they an alternative to antifungal agents? Journal of Applied Microbiology; 121(6): 1530-1545.
Chew, S. and Than, L. (2016). Vulvovaginal candidosis: contemporary challenges and the future of prophylactic and therapeutic approaches. Mycoses; 59(5): 262-273.
Darvishi, M. et al (2015). The comparison of vaginal cream of mixing yogurt, honey and clotrimazole on symptoms of vaginal candidiasis. Global Journal of Health Science; 7(6).
Healthline (2019). Garlic for yeast infection: treatment & side effects. [online] Available at: https://www.healthline.com/health/garlic-for-yeast-infection#treatment [accessed 28th March 2019].