Doctors usually recommend topical treatments before oral medications. For chronic infections, your doctor may increase the dosage and length of treatment. If you have vaginitis, you can also help prevent infection.
- Avoid excessive exertion and sweating.
- Keep the vaginal area as dry as possible.
- Avoid sex until symptoms clear.
- Take showers instead of baths.
- Use unscented soap.
- Always wipe from front to back after bowel movements.
- Wear cotton underwear.
- Avoid pantyhose and tight fitting pants.
Topical and oral therapies are equally effective.
Topical therapies may initially cause burning from inflammation. These include:
- Polyenes (nystatin). One tablet, twice a day, for 2 weeks, placed high in the vagina with an applicator. This treatment is 70% to 80% effective and causes no side effects on other parts of the body.
- Azole derivatives such as imidazole (such as miconazole, butoconazole) and triazole (such as fluconazole, terconazole) --Vaginal cream, 1 to 5 days, also may be used externally. This treatment is 85% to 90% effective and causes no side effects on other parts of the body.
Oral therapies include:
- Fluconazole (difulcan). About 75% to 92% effective. 150 mg once. This is often considered the treatment of choice. It should not be used during pregnancy.
- Ketoconazole. About 83% effective. 400 mg/day for 5 days, or for 2 weeks with recurring infection. Oral nystatin helps reduce intestinal problems.
Complementary and Alternative Therapies
Alternative therapies may help treat acute and chronic vaginitis. Make sure to inform your doctor about any herbs and supplements you are taking. Experienced practitioners may recommend douches, suppositories, and topical treatments with ingredients such as vinegar, tea tree oil, yogurt, or boric acid. Discuss these treatments with your doctor, as scientific evidence to support their use is lacking.
Nutrition and Supplements
These nutritional tips may help reduce symptoms.
- Eliminate potential food allergens, including dairy, wheat (gluten), corn, preservatives, and food additives. Your doctor may want to test you for food sensitivities.
- Eat foods high in B-vitamins and calcium, such as almonds, beans, whole grains (if no allergy is present), dark leafy greens (such as spinach and kale), and sea vegetables.
- Eat high-antioxidant foods, including fruits (such as blueberries, cherries, and tomatoes), and vegetables (such as squash and bell peppers).
- Eat more high-fiber foods, including beans, oats, root vegetables (such as potatoes and yams), and psyllium seed.
- Avoid refined foods (such as white breads, pastas, and sugar).
- Eat fewer red meats and more lean meats, cold-water fish, tofu (soy), or beans for protein.
- Use healthy oils, such as olive oil or coconut oil.
- Reduce or eliminate trans fatty acids, found in commercially baked goods like cookies, crackers, cakes, French fries, onion rings, donuts, processed foods, and margarine.
- Avoid coffee and other stimulants, alcohol, and tobacco.
- Drink 6 to 8 glasses of filtered water daily.
- Exercise at least 30 minutes daily, 5 days a week.
You may address nutritional deficiencies with the following supplements:
- A multivitamin daily. Containing the antioxidant vitamins A, C, E, the B-complex vitamins and trace minerals, such as magnesium, calcium, zinc, and selenium.
- Omega-3 fatty acids, such as fish oil. To help decrease inflammation and help with immunity. Cold-water fish, such as salmon or halibut, are good sources. Fish oil supplements can increase the effects of certain blood-thinning medications.
- Vitamin C. As an antioxidant for immune support and to protect the vaginal lining.
- Zinc lozenge. When needed for immune support during vaginitis outbreak. DO NOT exceed 45 mg of zinc daily.
- Probiotic supplement (containing Lactobacillus acidophilus). For maintenance of gastrointestinal and immune health. Refrigerate your probiotic supplements for best results. People with seriously weakened immune systems should speak to their doctors before taking probiotics.
- Grapefruit seed extract (Citrus paradisi). For antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral activity, and for immunity. Grapefruit seed extract can potentially interfere with a variety of medications.
Herbs are a way to strengthen and tone the body's systems. As with any therapy, you should work with your doctor to diagnose your problem before starting treatment. You may use herbs as dried extracts (capsules, powders, or teas), glycerites (glycerine extracts), or tinctures (alcohol extracts). Unless otherwise indicated, make teas with 1 tsp. (5 grams) herb per cup of hot water. Steep covered 5 to 10 minutes for leaf or flowers, and 10 to 20 minutes for roots. You may use tinctures alone or in combination as noted. Some herbs can interfere with medications. So talk to your doctor first before beginning an herbal therapy.
- Green tea (Camellia sinensis). Standardized extract, for antioxidant, anticancer and immune effects. Use caffeine-free products. You may also prepare teas from the leaf of this herb.
- Cat's claw (Uncaria tomentosa). For anticancer, immune and antibacterial or antifungal activity. Cat's claw can interact with many medications. Use caution if you have leukemia or an autoimmune disease as Cat's claw may worsen these conditions. Speak with your doctor.
- Milk thistle (Silybum marianum). Seed standardized extract, for detoxification support. Since milk thistle works on the liver, it can interact with a variety of medications. People with a history of hormone-related conditions, or who are at risk for such conditions, should speak to their doctors before using milk thistle.
- Garlic (Allium sativum). Standardized extract, for antifungal and immune activity. Garlic can have a blood thinning effect so talk to your doctor if you are taking blood-thinning medications. Garlic can interfere with many drugs, including drugs that treat HIV.
Some of the most common remedies for vaginitis are listed below. Usually, the dose is 3 to 5 pellets of a 12X - 30C remedy every 1 to 4 hours until your symptoms get better.
- Calcarea carbonica. For intense itching with thick white or yellowish discharge that is worse before you start your period.
- Borax. For burning pains with egg white colored discharge.
- Sepia. For burning pains with milky white discharge and pressure in vaginal area, especially if you feel depressed and irritable.
- Graphites. For backache with thin white discharge that is worse in the morning and when walking.
- Arsenicum album. For when you have burning discharge.
- Tea tree oil. To help treat symptoms.
- Homeopathic combinations are available as creams to apply vaginally.
Acupuncture may help improve immune function.
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