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Thrashing 7 thrush myths
Some myths about candidiasis are believed by moms and daughters.
If you are a woman, you have probably heard about vaginal infections – and that means that you might have heard some of the many misconceptions surrounding this condition. Some of these misconceptions do have some truth in them, but some are nothing short of myths! Here are a few of the popular ones:

Myth 1: Itchiness down there means a vaginal infection

Yes and no. If your genital area itches, it means you have a vaginal yeast infection, or vaginal candidiasis. Candidiasis is caused by a fungus called Candida albicans. Candida is always present in your body, but for some reason it sometimes grows out of control, which then leads to candidiasis. Women can also get a bacterial vaginal infection, but that usually does not itch and is caused by bacteria in the vagina.

Myth 2: Itchiness is the only symptom of candidiasis

Itchiness is the main symptom of candidiasis, but you can also have a white vaginal discharge – which can be odourless, or smell like yeast or bread. More symptoms include redness of the vulva (skin outside the vagina), burning when urinating and painful intercourse.

Myth 3: You get candidiasis from bubble bath or coloured soap, or you “catch” it from the blue puppies on your toilet paper

Bubble bath, soap or toilet paper does not cause candidiasis, but if you already have candidiasis, they can irritate an already irritated area more. The chemicals (fragrances and colourants) used in these products can lead to dryness in the genital area and that can increase the itchiness. Rather use a white, moisturising soap (like Dove), 2 ply white toilet paper (generally of a better quality) and no bubble bath. The same goes for sanitary pads and tampons – use natural, unbleached and non-fragranced. Also, note that a change in washing powder or fabric softener can also irritate the genital area.

Myth 4: Candidiasis is actually a sexually transmitted disease caused by sex

Candidiasis is not a sexually transmitted disease! But sometimes when a woman suffers from recurrent candida infections, her partner may develop a rash and some itching after intercourse. This is no reason to panic though; it can be easily treated by applying some anti-fungal vaginal cream for a day or two until the symptoms subside.

 Myth 5: You get candidiasis because of poor toilet hygiene

You get candidiasis from a fungus called Candida albicans that lives in your body. It does not lurk on toilet seats. Yes, it is always a good idea to practise safe and healthy toilet hygiene, because you can get something even worse if you don’t – a bacterial vaginal infection. So always use antibacterial spray on public toilet seats before you use the toilet. And always wipe from front to back.

Myth 6: You have to go to the doctor if you have candidiasis

You should always go to your doctor if you are worried about something, but for uncomplicated candidiasis it is not really necessary to go to your doctor – especially if you have recurrent infections. Candidiasis is really very common – your pharmacist can give you an over-the-counter cream to help with the symptoms. There are also some home remedies you can try: Yoghurt is excellent in replacing the “good bacteria” in your vagina – apply it as you would apply vaginal cream. White vinegar is also good – Candida loves an alkaline environment and by adding vinegar to your bath, you make it more acidic. (Mix 2 cups of vinegar and 1 cup of Epson salt with your bath water and soak in it.) However, if your candidiasis does not clear up in a few days, or if you have another infection shortly after the first, you should see your doctor to make sure there is not a serious underlying issue, such as poor blood sugar control.

Myth 7: You treat candidiasis with antibiotics

Candidiasis is caused by a fungus and it is useless to treat a fungus with antibiotics. By taking antibiotics, you will make the outbreak even worse! Antibiotics kill the “good bacteria” such as Lactobacillus acidophilus that lives in the vagina and keep thrush under control. Candidiasis is treated with oral medication (e.g. fluconazole) or topical creams or suppositories (e.g. Medaspor or Canesten).

Have you or your daughter ever experienced thrush? How did you manage the symptoms?

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