While the excessive fungal growth that causes a yeast infection can happen just about anywhere on the body, including in nail beds, the belly button, and under the breasts, the most talked-about kind is probably vaginal. Symptoms like itching, burning, and redness are annoying anywhere, but are made even worse when they hit sensitive regions. That's why it's so important to find the best yeast infection cream for your needs to solve the problem quickly but effectively.
Choosing an over-the-counter cream with "actual antifungal medication" is essential, says Margaret Sullivan, MD, obstetrician and gynecologist at Tufts Medical Center. Some products like Vagisil only "numb the area but don’t treat the yeast," she warns.
"There are three effective over-the-counter treatments available in the U.S.," Daniel Breitkopf, MD, obstetrician and gynecologist at the Mayo Clinic explains. "These include creams that contain miconazole, clotrimazole, and tioconazole. There are not significant differences in effectiveness between these medications." Those who are pregnant, have diabetes, or suffer especially severe symptoms should consult a doctor before using one of these treatments.
If your symptoms don't improve after a few days of OTC treatment, or you're getting recurring infections, it's a good idea to call a doctor, too, Dr. Sullivan says. In her practice, she commonly prescribes oral Diflucan because it's "easy to use, no messy creams."
When a yeast infection strikes, don't fear and definitely don't feel ashamed. Yeast infections are not a matter of cleanliness, and douching will only irritate the area.
You don't need to turn your lifestyle upside down, either. "There is not good scientific evidence that changes in diet, sexual behavior, or probiotics are effective in reducing the chance of getting a yeast infection," Dr. Breitkopf says, though he notes that switching birth control with your doctor can sometimes help.