The 3 Best Yeast Infection Creams
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.
When life (and yeast infections) happen, tackle them by arming yourself with these picks for the best creams to treat vaginas and beyond.
1. The Best Overall Pick For Vaginal Yeast Infections
When deciding between a one-, three-, or seven-day product, Dr. Sullivan says that "the length ... is the patient’s preference" since "each course has the same total biologic dose." Other ob-gyns have mentioned that a one-day treatment is not always the most effective but consider if you want to apply treatments for an entire week. It's also worth noting that one-day treatments still usually take more than a single day to clear up a yeast infection.
This middle ground three-day Monistat regimen contains vaginal ovules (with a disposable applicator for each) to deliver the actives as easily as you'd use a tampon, a medicated cream for external use, and even soothing wipes to help clean up.
Miconazole, the active ingredient, is one the most commonly used antifungals for vaginal yeast infections. And while having effective actives is an important start, this treatment sets itself apart by the ease of use — which is why it's the top pick.
The cons are that it's the priciest on the list, and a few reviewers report experiencing irritation. So if you have a sensitive vagina, it might be best to ask a doctor first.
2. The Best Budget Pick For Vaginal Yeast Infections
This pack of two regimens is less than a single box of Monistat's ovules product, making it an excellent budget alternative.
Most customers found the active ingredient clotrimazole to work well, with some even noting that it worked when other antifungals weren't effective or caused sensitivity for them. "This 3-day clotrimazole was great even on my sensitive body ... I had zero side effects, only relief," one review says. "I like that the cream is thick enough that it stays in place so it can absorb properly."
While you have to pack the applicators with the medicated cream yourself with this one, a reviewer noted that it was "not that difficult." However, a few found that the applicators were difficult and uncomfortable to use.
3. A Multipurpose Choice For Non-Vaginal Yeast Infections
Customers rave about this tiny tube's ability to tackle yeast infections on skin. "As a diabetic, I can have problems with skin yeast infections. This cream works quite well to clear them up and keep them from recurring," says a reviewer. Some even used it for vaginal yeast infections and said it worked.
It shares the same doctor-recommended active ingredient as Monistat, and at less than $10 per tube — and with big discounts if you buy it in a pack of three or six — it's also a great deal. Customers found it effective against other fungal skin infections like athlete's foot, jock itch, and ringworm, making it an inexpensive multitasker to consider keeping in the first aid kit.
4. A Non-Prescription Alternative To Antifungal Creams
If your yeast infection is resistant to traditional antifungal creams or seriously recurring, boric acid suppositories are something to consider. Boric acid has antifungal properties, and this popular bottle has more than 2,700 reviews with a 4.5 overall rating.
However, Dr. Sullivan notes, "Boric acid and gentian violet are older regimens that are rarely used." Other things to consider: Don't take boric acid orally, apply it to open wounds, or leave it out where pets or children can reach it because it can potentially be toxic. Pregnant women should not use it, either. And though rare, the possible side effects of boric acid suppositories include "vaginal burning and itching," according to Our Bodies Ourselves. In other words, it's a good idea to ask a doctor first before trying these.
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