Topical treatments for yeast infections are less likely than oral medications or herbal remedies to cause drug-resistant strains of Candida yeast.
Topical treatments tend to be less harmful to the human body than anti-fungal medications or herbs taken orally, and they’re usually recommended unless the infection is extremely difficult to treat, or if the patient has a compromised immune system. In those cases, an oral or systemic medication may be needed.
One thing thing to consider before chosing any yeast infection remedy is to make sure the treatment doesn’t damage your own natural defenses against future yeast infections.
Almost all of us are natural hosts to a resident population of Candida, so our bodies have developed ways to prevent infection without outside help. Our mucous membranes are usually an effective barrier to infection, and our immune cells search out and destroy yeast cells that appear in the wrong places. Our own beneficial bacteria also work hard to keep the yeast population in check.
If you do get a yeast infection, it means that one or more of these natural defense systems has failed, or your chemical balance has changed. When choosing a treatment option, you should look for a form of treatment that will strengthen your natural defense system and improve your overall health, if at all possible.
A mild infection may go away before you even know you have a yeast infection. Your immune system, bacterial population, or hormone balance come back into balance naturally. When you do notice an infection, you will want to take steps to kill off the infectious yeasts in the genital area to get rid of the annoying symptoms as quickly as possible. Once this is accomplished, you will want to look at your diet and lifestyle to improve your general health so the infection doesn’t come back.
A shotgun approach to killing the yeast is rarely recommended. There are systemic antifungal medications that can be taken either orally or by IV injection, but most of the time your doctor will prescribe or recommend a topical cream or ointment that affects only the specific area where the infection occurs.
Topical treatments are almost always effective, but should only be used when needed. Some scientists are concerned that drug-resistant strains created by the misuse of over-the-counter antifungal medications may escape into the air, where they can infect other people.
Oral and IV medications are generally used only when a topical treatment doesn’t work. This can happen when the yeast has developed a resistance to the medications in the topical creams, or because the immune system is compromised.
Yeast infections in patients with compromised immune systems will, of course, be treated more aggressively. And if you have chronic yeast infections, your personal yeast population may already be resistant to the topical creams and ointments available in drug stores, or to a “natural” remedy that always worked for you before. In this case, your doctor may need to prescribe something stronger.