Yeast infections are known to occur at the genitals, throat or mouth. At times, diapers can cause rashes which in turn may lead to yeast infections. All such infections are often caused when the quantum of fungus in your body gets disrupted. When the situation is conducive, growth of fungus turns into yeast infections. Among women, almost three out of every four women (mostly adult women) are likely to experience yeast infections in their vagina. A basic level of understanding of OTC medications available to treat yeast infections can help you manage this medical condition.

Very much like bacteria, different types of fungus live in your body. Candida is a form of yeast that exists in relatively smaller quantities. Incidence of yeast infections can occur when the natural balance stands disturbed. The site of fungal infections may vary based on age group and gender. Oral infections are observed commonly among elderly people as well as newly born babies. On the other hand, women – especially adults – are more likely to develop yeast infections in their vagina.

OTC medications to treat yeast infections

A major difference between OTC pills and prescribed drugs rests in the strength of the drugs’ composition; i.e., OTC pills that treat yeast infections are in general of a milder dose than their prescribed counterparts. The most common OTC pills used for yeast infections are clotrimazole, miconazole, butoconazole, tioconazole, etc.

Clotrimazole

Clotrimazole is known to offer cure from common yeast infections. It is an antifungal medication belonging to a genre called azoles. The main function of this drug is to inhibit the spread and further progression of fungus by attacking its membrane. Once its membrane disintegrates, it eventually leads to complete rupture. This antifungal medication can also treat growth of yeast and infections in your mouth. It is available as a topical cream as well as a vaginal pill or suppository. Common side effects of this drug are occurrence of red patches on skin, irritation of skin, etc. If these effects do not go away and persist for long, you need to take needful medical help.

Miconazole nitrate

This antifungal drug is also available as an ointment (cream) and as a pill. It is primarily used for yeast infections in the genital area – especially for women. Dose of this drug is a factor of (1) the extent of yeast infection and (2) your body’s response to the medication. If you are taking it as a pill, it is often taken through a single dose either during the night (prior to your sleep) or during the course of the day. The pill is made to enter inside the vagina by using your finger or an applicator. Ensure that you have pushed the pill deep inside your vagina – i.e., as long as it can be inserted into.

Butoconazole

This is also an azole-based antifungal drug used for the treatment of yeast infections. It is used for the treatment of infections that develop in the genital region. Side effects of using this drug include pain in lower abdomen, itchiness, irritation of skin, etc. As corticosteroids and medicines that suppress immunity (for example – methotrexate, cyclosporine, etc.) can enhance risks of fungal infections, you need to tell your pharmacist if you are taking any such drugs.

Tioconazole

This OTC drug for yeast infection works exclusively for fungal infections. So, if you are experiencing yeast infections for the first time, you may need to consult your doctor. Your doctor will help confirm if the infection is caused by fungal growth or due to any other causes – say, bacteria, inflammation of pelvis, etc. However, if it is not a fungal infection, you may develop signs such as fever, cold, pain in abdomen, chills, etc. This drug may interact with NSAIDs such as prednisone as well as with a few antibiotics. Hence, it is recommended to tell your pharmacist about the other drugs you are currently taking.

You also need to be aware that there are other kinds of infections that are similar to yeast infections. These may be triggered by an inflammatory condition (pelvic inflammation disorder – PID) or bacterial infection (a condition called as bacterial vaginosis); the symptoms of these conditions may significantly vary from those of yeast infections. For example, if you are experiencing pain in your stomach, flu-type signs (runny nose, sore throat, coughs, chills, etc.) with discharges from vagina with a bad smell, you need to tell about these signs to your treating physician.

The cream or ointment form of these drugs is often packed with an applicator (with a plunger) for easy use of the drug inside sensitive parts like vagina. It is strongly recommended to continue using these drugs for the full period of treatment advised to you. Never stop using the drug if your menstrual cycle begins or if you think the symptoms have eased off. You may run the risk of another spell of yeast infections if you have halted using the medication in the middle of your treatment plan.

You must tell your treating doctor if you have hypersensitivity to antifungal medications such as ketoconazole or other drugs of the azole genre. As most antifungals may interact with other drugs, you may need to tell your pharmacist about treatment plans that you are pursuing. You are also advised not to use other vaginal drugs or products such as spermicides or tampons while you are using OTC antifungal medications. If you are not seeing a marked improvement in your medical condition or if you find a relapse within 45 days, it is time to consult your doctor.

You also need to share your medical history with your pharmacist or treating physician. Share your medical history or your family’s clinical track-record, especially if you have ailments such as low levels of immunity (due to conditions like HIV infections), diabetes, pre-existing fungal infections, etc.

In general, the benefit of using pills or suppositories is, you may need a lesser dose than antifungal creams. Even when the use of pills or suppositories is for a shorter span, you are very likely to reap greater benefits from rom such treatment. The additional benefit of a suppository is it is less likely to get messy – unlike an antifungal cream or ointment.

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