- Monistat Complete Care Vaginal Health Test + Itch Relief2.0ea
- Do I have to go to the doctor if I have vaginitis?
- What are the treatments for vaginitis?
- How can I ease irritating symptoms of vaginitis?
- Where can I get checked and treated for vaginitis?
- Bacterial Vaginosis vs. Yeast Infection: Which Is It?
- Mayo Clinic Q and A: Vaginal infections have similar symptoms, require different treatments
- These Are the Best Ways to Test for a Yeast Infection
- Bacterial Vaginosis vs Yeast Infection: What is the Difference?
- Bacterial Vaginosis vs Yeast Infection
- What Causes Bacterial Vaginosis?
- What are Causes of a Yeast Infection?
- Symptoms of Bacterial Vaginosis
- Symptoms of a Yeast Infection
- How Long Does Bacterial Vaginosis Last?
- How Long Does a Yeast Infection Last?
- Can Men Get Bacterial Vaginosis?
- Can Men Get A Yeast Infection?
- Is Bacterial Vaginosis an STD?
- How to Get Rid of Bacterial Vaginosis
- Home Remedies for Bacterial Vaginosis
- Treatment for Bacterial Vaginosis
- How to Get Rid of a Yeast Infection
- Home Remedies for a Yeast Infection
- Over the Counter Treatment for a Yeast Infection
- Preventing a Yeast Infection and Bacterial Vaginosis
- V-Box – 5 Panel Vaginal Health Test Pack
- What Causes Abnormal Vaginal Discharge:
- What Is a Yeast Infection?
- What Is BV?
- What Is Trich?
- What Happens If I Test Positive?
- Laboratory tests for fungal infection
- Culture of fungi
- Blood tests for patients with deep or disseminated fungal infection
- Molecular biology techniques
- Fungal Tests
- How is it used?
- Tests for Superficial Fungal Infections
- Tests for Systemic Fungal Infections
- When is it ordered?
- What does the test result mean?
- Is there anything else I should know?
- If I have a persistent cough and fever, why would my healthcare provider ask me where I have been traveling and what activities I have been doing?
- If my healthcare provider thinks I have a fungal infection, why am I being tested for tuberculosis?
- Will my fungal infection eventually resolve itself without treatment?
- Is it really necessary to continue treatment for a long period of time?
Monistat Complete Care Vaginal Health Test + Itch Relief2.0ea
The same accurate test used by doctors, the Vaginal Health Test from Monistat Complete Care is a convenient, easy-to-use vaginal acidity test for women who have symptoms that may be associated with vaginal infection. The test may help you determine if your symptoms are caused by an infection that may require follow-up by your healthcare provider.
The kit also includes a sample of Instant Itch Relief Cream from Monistat Complete Care so you can get relief of symptoms before you start to treat.
- Helps you determine whether you need to see a doctor
- Highly accurate test provides easy-to-read results
- Use as directed
- Keep the protective foil package containing the test swab sealed until needed for use to avoid contamination
- Wash and dry your hands
- Unwrap the individual swab testing unit. If the swab is damaged or the swap tip is stained, dispose of the test and use a new one
- Make sure that the swab tip does not contact anything before insertion into the vaginal entrance
- Hold the test swab with your fingers on the hand of the swab
- Separate the vaginal outer skin layer so the vagina is exposed
- Insert the yellow tip of the swab until your fingers reach the outer skin of the vagina approximately 2 inches (5 cm) into the mid vagina and rotate the swab several times. Do not touch the vaginal entrance
- Withdraw the swab from your vagina. Carefully avoid having the tip making contact with anything, and check that it has collected visible amount of secretion
- Wait 10 seconds. Check the tip of the swab for color changes from yellow to blue or green. Note: If any blood stain appears on the swab, disregard the results
- Dispose of swab after usage as you would any other feminine hygiene product
Reading your results: Check the tip of the swab for color changes from yellow to blue or green. If the tip is stained (including partially stained blue or green), your vaginal acidity (pH) is abnormal and you may have a vaginal infection. You should see your healthcare provider for further testing and treatment. Do not self-treat with an over-the-counter antifungal. Important: If you are pregnant and the tip is stained blue or green, the color may indicate amniotic fluid leak. It is important to consult your healthcare provider as soon as possible. If the tip did not change color, your vaginal acidity (pH) is normal. If you are experiencing symptoms of an infection (i.e. abnormal discharge, itching, irritation, or burning) you may have a yeast infection. If this is your first yeast infection, see your healthcare provider. Wash your hands after you finish handling the Vaginal Health Test from Monistat Complete Care. Repeating the test: If you are not certain that vaginal discharge was collected on the tip, perform a second sampling. If the tip is stained blue or green on either test, your vaginal acidity is abnormal, and you should consult your healthcare provider. Storage: Store the test in a dry place at room temperature (59°-86°F) (15°-30°C). Keep the protective foil package containing the test swab sealed until needed for use to avoid contamination. © Prestige Brands Holdings, Inc.
In This Section
- How do I get checked and treated for vaginitis?
- How do I prevent vaginitis?
- What is a yeast infection?
- What is bacterial vaginosis?
A nurse or doctor can tell if you have vaginitis, and help figure out why it happened. Vaginitis treatments vary depending on what’s causing the problem.
X in a circle
Think you may have a yeast infection or vaginitis?
Find a Health Center A right arrow in a circle
Do I have to go to the doctor if I have vaginitis?
If you have symptoms of vaginitis, it’s a good idea to see your nurse, doctor, or local Planned Parenthood health center. Vaginitis isn’t usually a major health problem, but if you don’t get it treated it can become serious.
There are many different causes of vaginitis, and STDs like gonorrhea and chlamydia can have symptoms that are really similar to vaginitis. Seeing a doctor is the best way to find out exactly what’s going on, so you can get the right treatment.
To see what’s causing your vaginitis, your doctor may do an exam, look at a sample of your vaginal discharge under a microscope, or do other tests, like a urine test.
If your doctor has diagnosed you with a vaginal yeast infections before and you’re having the same symptoms, you can try an over-the-counter yeast infection medicine. But if you’re not sure, see your doctor or go to a Planned Parenthood health center. And if you used an over-the-counter medicine but your symptoms don’t go away, see a doctor.
What are the treatments for vaginitis?
Vaginitis is usually easy to cure. The type of vaginitis treatment that’s best for you depends on:
what’s causing your vaginitis
how bad your symptoms are
whether you’re pregnant
If your vaginitis is caused by a yeast infection, bacterial vaginosis, or trich, your doctor may give you a prescription for creams, suppositories, vaginal tablets, or pills. You can also get medicated creams or suppositories for yeast infections (like Monistat) at the drugstore without a prescription. Trich is the only type of vaginitis that’s sexually transmitted. So if you have trich it’s very important for your sexual partners to get treated, too.
If your vaginitis is caused by an allergy or irritation, the symptoms will usually go away when you stop using whatever’s causing the problem. Sometimes you might need to use a cream to help clear up your vaginitis. In rare cases of really bad allergic reactions, you may need emergency medical help.
If your vaginitis is caused by low levels of estrogen, your doctor may give you a prescription for creams, pills, or vaginal rings that release estrogen into your body.
No matter what type of vaginitis treatment you need, make sure you:
Don’t use anybody else’s medicine. Even if your symptoms are similar, you may have a different infection or need a different kind of treatment.
Don’t use old medicine. It may not work anymore, and it could even make the infection worse.
Carefully follow your doctor’s instructions or the directions that come with your treatment.
Use ALL of your medicine. The infection can come back if you don’t take all your medicine, even if your symptoms stop and even if you have your period.
Go to a follow-up appointment with your doctor to make sure the treatment worked.
During your vaginitis treatment:
Don’t put anything in your vagina except medicine or tampons. Take a break from oral or vaginal sex until you feel better.
If you have your period, it’s okay to use tampons or menstrual cups, unless it’s the kind of medicine you put into your vagina. If that’s the case, use pads instead.
If you’re using gels or creams inside your vagina, you can use unscented pads or panty liners to help keep the medicine from leaking onto your clothes.
How can I ease irritating symptoms of vaginitis?
Even though vaginitis can be super itchy and irritating, try not to scratch. It can cause more irritation or cuts in your skin, which can spread germs and lead to more infection. There are over-the-counter vaginal creams that you can use on your vulva to help calm the irritation. Your doctor can also give you tips on relieving burning and itching.
Avoid sex until your infection or irritation goes away (especially if you have trich, because it’s a sexually transmitted infection that you and your partner can pass back and forth). Friction from sex and your partner’s body fluids can cause more irritation or make it harder to heal. And some medicines that you use in your vagina have oil in them, which can cause condoms to break.
Where can I get checked and treated for vaginitis?
You can get checked and treated for vaginitis at your local Planned Parenthood health center, community or reproductive health clinics, or your ob/gyn or family doctor.
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Bacterial Vaginosis vs. Yeast Infection: Which Is It?
Home remedies, OTC creams and medications, and prescription antibiotics can treat yeast infections.
Prescription antibiotics can only treat BV.
Metronidazole (Flagyl) and tinidazole (Tindamax) are two commonly prescribed oral medications used to treat BV.
Your provider could also prescribe a suppository cream, such as clindamycin (Cleocin).
Although your symptoms should clear up quickly — within two or three days — be sure to finish out the full five- or seven-day course of antibiotics.
Finishing the full course of medication is the only way to clear the infection and reduce your risk for recurrence.
During this time, avoid having vaginal intercourse or inserting anything into the vagina that could introduce bacteria, including:
- menstrual cups
- sex toys
Unless your symptoms continue after your prescription runs out, you probably won’t need a follow-up appointment.
How long does BV typically last?
Once you begin treatment, your symptoms should subside within two or three days. If left untreated, BV may take two weeks to go away on its own — or it may keep coming back.
You can buy suppository creams that kill the Candida fungus, including miconazole (Monistat) and clotrimazole (Gyne-Lotrimin), at your local pharmacy.
If you see a doctor, they may prescribe a prescription-strength suppository cream or an oral medication called fluconazole.
If you experience recurrent yeast infections — more than four per year — your provider may prescribe a different kind of medication.
Although some medications may only require one dose, others may run a course of up to 14 days. Finishing the full course of medication is the only way to clear the infection and reduce your risk for recurrence.
During this time, avoid having vaginal intercourse or inserting anything into the vagina that could introduce bacteria, including:
- menstrual cups
- sex toys
If your symptoms subside after treatment, you likely won’t need a follow-up appointment.
How long does a yeast infection typically last?
OTC and prescription medication can usually clear up a yeast infection within a week. If you rely on home remedies or opt not to treat the yeast infection, symptoms can last for several weeks or more.
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Mayo Clinic Q and A: Vaginal infections have similar symptoms, require different treatments
DEAR MAYO CLINIC: What is the difference between bacterial vaginosis and a yeast infection? I’ve had painful itching for two weeks but have not been to see a doctor yet. Are over-the-counter medications effective in treating both?
ANSWER: Bacterial vaginosis, or BV, and vaginal yeast infections may have some symptoms that seem similar, but they have different causes and require different treatment. Over-the-counter remedies are available for a yeast infection. BV typically requires prescription medication. See your doctor to get an accurate diagnosis. Then he or she can help you decide on the best treatment.
BV and yeast infections both fall under the broad category of vaginal infections, called vaginitis. These infections are quite common in women. They usually can be treated effectively without any long-term problems. You need to know which type of infection you have, however, to make sure you get the right treatment.
BV is the result of an overgrowth of one of several organisms normally present in your vagina. Usually, the “good” bacteria, called lactobacilli, outnumber the “bad” bacteria, called anaerobes. If anaerobic bacteria become too numerous, they upset the natural balance of microorganisms in your vagina, resulting in bacterial vaginosis.
One of the most common reasons for an overgrowth of anaerobic bacteria is douching — rinsing out your vagina with water or a cleansing agent. In most cases, douching is not recommended because it disrupts the vaginal environment and can lead to BV, as well as other types of vaginitis, including a vaginal yeast infection.
In contrast to BV, a vaginal yeast infection is caused by a fungus called candida. Candida is a microorganism that’s normally present in your vagina. Your vagina naturally contains a balanced mix of yeast and bacteria. Lactobacillus bacteria produce acid, which discourages overgrowth of yeast in the vagina. But disruption of the balance between the two can result in an overgrowth of yeast.
A number of factors can result in an overgrowth of vaginal yeast. You may be at higher risk for a yeast infection if you take antibiotics regularly. Antibiotic use can cause a decrease in the amount of lactobacillus bacteria in your vagina, allowing yeast to overgrow. Women who take birth control pills containing estrogen, who are pregnant, who have uncontrolled diabetes, or whose immune systems are weakened are also at an increased risk for yeast infections.
Symptoms of BV and a yeast infection both usually include vaginal discharge. BV typically causes discharge that’s thin and gray or yellow. A yeast infection causes discharge that is thick and white, with a cottage-cheese type appearance. BV is associated with a foul, “fishy” vaginal odor, while most women don’t notice an odor with a yeast infection. A yeast infection also typically causes itching, particularly in younger women, and may include a burning sensation, especially during urination. In general, BV doesn’t cause itching or burning.
You can treat a yeast infection with over-the-counter medication. But if you aren’t sure if that’s what is causing your symptoms, see your doctor first. To make a diagnosis, your doctor likely will perform a pelvic exam and take a sample of vaginal secretions to be examined under a microscope.
Prescription medications such as metronidazole, clindamycin and tinidazole often can effectively treat BV. For yeast infections, antifungal creams, ointments, tablets or suppositories usually are all that’s needed to restore the vaginal balance of bacteria and yeast and eliminate symptoms. If a yeast infection is causing severe symptoms, or if the infection comes back multiple times, additional treatment may be necessary to keep the yeast in check.
If your symptoms don’t improve with treatment, it’s important to contact your doctor. It’s possible that a yeast infection or BV may not be the problem, and further evaluation is needed. — Mary Marnach, M.D., Obstetrics & Gynecology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn.
These Are the Best Ways to Test for a Yeast Infection
While yeast infection symptoms can seem pretty obvious-severe itching, cottage cheese-like discharge-women are actually pretty bad at self-diagnosing the condition. Despite the fact that three out of four women will experience at least one yeast infection in her lifetime, only 17 percent could correctly ID whether they had one or not, according to research done at St. Louis University.
“Some women automatically assume that if they have vaginal itching or abnormal discharge, then it must be a yeast infection,” says Kim Gaten, a family nurse practitioner at an ob/gyn clinic in Memphis, TN. “Many times they will come in after self treating, still complaining of symptoms, they actually have another type of infection, such as bacterial vaginosis, an imbalance of bacteria in the vagina, or trichomoniasis, a common sexually transmitted disease.” (That Said, Here Are 5 Yeast Infection Symptoms Every Woman Should Know About.)
So while knowing the symptoms-which can also include swollen or irritated skin, pain during urination, and pain during sex-is important, a yeast infection test is equally critical. “Patients should always test for a yeast infection versus going straight to yeast infection meds simply because the symptoms they are having could possibly be another type of infection,” says Gaten. If you head straight for what you think is the cure, you could end up ignoring the real issue-and dealing with the symptoms for even longer.
How Do Doctors Test for a Yeast Infection?
If you think you have a yeast infection, most ob/gyns would recommend you touch base with your doctor, whether over the phone or in person. Talking to them can confirm clear-cut symptoms, and if you’re unsure whether yours is actually a yeast infection, an in-person appointment can clear up any confusion.
Once you’re there, the doctor will get your medical history, then perform a physical exam to see what type of discharge you have and collect a vaginal culture for testing, says Gaten. They’ll look at it under a microscope to see if cells are present and-voila-be able to give you a definitive answer.
This yeast infection test is key because, even though many believe there’s a urine test for a yeast infection, Gaten says no such thing exists. “A urinalysis can tell us if the patient has bacteria in their urine, but it does not specifically diagnose yeast infections,” she explains. (PS: This Is Your Step-By-Step Guide to Curing a Yeast Infection.)
How to Test for a Yeast Infection at Home
If you really don’t have time for a visit to your ob/gyn (or you just want to start addressing those symptoms ASAP), an at-home yeast infection test is another option. “There are several over-the-counter yeast infection tests that you can buy to test for yeast infections at home,” says Gaten.
Popular OTC yeast infection tests include the Monistat Complete Care Vaginal Health Test, as well as drugstore brands that you can pick up in places like CVS or Walmart. A yeast infection test kit can diagnose other bacterial conditions, too, just in case yeast isn’t the ultimate culprit.
The best part, though, is that these tests are extremely user-friendly, says Gaten. “The patient performs a vaginal swab, and the test measures the vaginal acidity. With most tests, they will turn a certain color if the acidity is abnormal.” If your acidity is normal, you can rule out issues like bacterial vaginosis, and move on to yeast infection treatments. (Though These Are the At-Home Remedies That You Should Never Try.)
Plus, Gaten says that most at-home yeast infection tests are accurate in comparison to in-office testing. They’re also safe to use, so long as you carefully follow the directions listed on the label.
That said, if you try an at-home yeast infection test and treatment, but your symptoms persist or worsen, Gaten says it’s important to schedule that visit with your ob/gyn. After all, nobody wants to deal with vaginal problems any longer than necessary.
- By Ashley Mateo @ashleymateo
Bacterial Vaginosis vs Yeast Infection: What is the Difference?
Table of Contents
Bacterial Vaginosis vs Yeast Infection
Bacterial vaginosis and yeast infections have some of the same symptoms, but the causes and treatments for these infections are different. While a yeast infection can be treated with over the counter products or may go away on its own, bacterial vaginosis may need to be treated with prescription medication.
Yeast infections and bacterial vaginosis are both common vaginal infections that fall under the category of vaginitis. In fact, three out of every four women will get a yeast infection during their lifetime and bacterial vaginosis is the most common infection for women ages 15 to 44.
What Causes Bacterial Vaginosis?
Your vagina is a delicate ecosystem that contains a mix of different bacteria that include yeast and lactobacillus. They work together to keep a natural balance of acidity that is measured by a pH factor. Normally, the pH factor in your vagina should be between 3.8 and 4.2. If the pH factor gets thrown off course by certain risk factors and reaches a level of 4.5 or higher, then it may be likely that you have a vaginal infection like bacterial vaginosis.
Bacterial vaginosis is caused by the overgrowth of “bad” bacteria or microflora in your vagina. This overproduction of anaerobic bacteria upsets the natural balance of microorganisms and causes the uncomfortable symptoms associated with this condition.
Some of these risk factors may include:
- Having more than one sexual partner
- Hormonal changes
- Thong underwear or tight pants
- Past history of STDs
- Using sex toys
- Lubricants that contain perfume
- Taking antibiotics
- Heavy or prolonged menstruation
What are Causes of a Yeast Infection?
A yeast infection, also known as candida vulvovaginitis, is usually brought on by an overgrowth of a fungus called Candida albicans. Candida is a microorganism that is common in your body and can be found in small amounts throughout the areas of your body such as your mouth, intestines, skin, and vagina.
Some causes of a yeast infection might include:
- Birth control pills
- Being sexually active
- Tight clothing such as a thong
- Long term antibiotics
Pre-existing conditions like diabetes may also cause a yeast infection in some women.
Both men and women with autoimmune issues like HIV are more prone to get a yeast infection because of their compromised immune system.
Hormonal changes in a woman’s cycle like menopause, pregnancy, or menstruation may be a factor in contracting a yeast infection.
Symptoms of Bacterial Vaginosis
If you are having some of these uncomfortable symptoms, you could have bacterial vaginosis:
- A strong, pungent odor that smells like fish
- Thin white, gray, or greenish discharge from your vagina
- Burning during urination
- Thick discharge after your menstruation cycle or just after sex
- Itchiness in and around the vaginal area
Symptoms of a Yeast Infection
Although yeast infections and bacterial vaginitis are similar, there are some distinct differences in the symptoms of each condition. Some yeast infection symptoms may include:
- Yeast infection discharge that looks like cottage cheese or is thick, white, and lumpy
- Itchiness that won’t go away
- Anal itching
- Pain when you urinate
- Painful intercourse
How Long Does Bacterial Vaginosis Last?
For some women, a case of BV will go away on its own in a few days to a week. Other women may consider using a home remedy for a mild infection. If your symptoms last more than seven days, it might be time to think about seeing a medical professional for diagnosis and treatment of your BV.
If treated with a seven-day course of antibiotics, a BV infection will generally clear up within two to three days. It is important to continue taking the full dosage of antibiotics as your doctor prescribed.
If left untreated, bacterial vaginosis can lead to further risk of complications such as an ovarian infection, fallopian tube infection, uterine infection, or pelvic inflammatory disease (PID).
How Long Does a Yeast Infection Last?
How long a yeast infection lasts will depend on how severe the infection is. A mild yeast infection may go away on its own within three or four days. A moderate infection with increasingly uncomfortable symptoms may require treatment and last for a longer period of time.
With prescription medication, such as Diflucan a yeast infection should go away in seven to fourteen days.
Home remedies and over the counter medications may be effective for a mild case of yeast infection. However, more serious cases should be seen by a doctor.
In any case, every time you think you have a yeast infection or are suffering with similar symptoms, you may want to consider seeing a medical professional to ensure that you get a proper diagnosis and treatment, especially if you are pregnant.
Can Men Get Bacterial Vaginosis?
Men cannot get bacterial vaginosis. A man’s body does not have an equivalent place that provides a friendly ecosystem for organisms and microflora like anaerobic bacteria and lactobacilli to grow.
If you think you have BV and you have a male sexual partner, there is no need for your partner to get tested or seek medical treatment. If your partner is a woman, however, she may want to consider getting tested for bacterial vaginosis especially if your own BV is recurring or chronic.
Can Men Get A Yeast Infection?
It’s not very common, but a man can get a yeast infection. It is generally caused by having unprotected sex with someone who has candidal vaginitis. There is an increased risk for a man who has not been circumcised however, with proper hygiene this risk is reduced.
Symptoms of a man with a yeast infection may include:
- A dry rash that peels
- Small white spots on penis
If left untreated, a yeast infection in a man may go away on its own. However, there can be complications such as the infection spreading to the buttocks, scrotum, and inner thighs.
Getting a prescription of oral or topical anti fungal cream is a simple and quick solution. Generally, the cream should be applied twice a day for one to three weeks.
Is Bacterial Vaginosis an STD?
Bacterial vaginosis is not an STD, but it can increase your risk of getting a sexually transmitted disease like herpes, chlamydia, or gonorrhea. If you are HIV positive or have other autoimmune issues, getting bacterial vaginosis may increase the chances of passing on the HIV virus to your partner.
You can’t get bacterial vaginosis from having intercourse if you have a male partner. However, you may be more likely to contract this infection if you have recently had sex with a new partner. Some researchers think it is possible that a change in sexual partners can upset the pH balance of vaginal bacteria.
If you think that you may have an STD and are having symptoms, it’s important to get safe and easy STD testing from a medical professional that you trust.
How to Get Rid of Bacterial Vaginosis
If you think that you may have BV and want to know how to get rid of bacterial vaginosis, you may want to consider seeing your gynecologist or another medical professional.
Your doctor will do a vaginal examination and take a swab sample of your vaginal discharge to test for pH factor levels. The sample of your vaginal discharge will also rule out any other potential infections like a yeast infection or an STD. If you are in an exclusive relationship, your doctor may prescribe an antibiotic based on the color of your vaginal discharge and its odor.
Home Remedies for Bacterial Vaginosis
Home remedies for bacterial vaginosis are available to treat this condition. Some home treatments may be more effective for you than others. One benefit to choosing a home remedy is that there may be fewer side effects than prescription treatment.
Plain Yogurt – Bacterial vaginosis natural treatment may be effective with the use of plain yogurt. Yogurt contains lots of healthy bacteria and is a natural probiotic. Use yogurt for bacterial vaginosis by applying a thin coat of plain yogurt to your vaginal area on a daily basis. Another option is to apply some plain yogurt to a tampon and insert it into your vagina before bedtime.
Tea Tree Oil – Tea tree oil contains strong antibacterial and antifungal properties that are beneficial for many conditions. Try diluting tea tree oil with a carrier oil like coconut, almond, or olive oil by mixing five to ten drops of tea tree oil with one ounce of the carrier oil.
Tea tree oil can make some women’s skin sensitive. You may want to test a small amount of your diluted solution to your arm to make sure that your sensitive areas will not be irritated.
Hydrogen Peroxide – Use one ounce of hydrogen peroxide once a day for a week. Hydrogen peroxide has been known to help reduce the uncomfortable symptoms like itching with bacterial vaginosis.
Garlic – Garlic has long been a source of treatment for a number of ailments because of its antibiotic, antibacterial, and antifungal properties. Bacterial vaginosis can be treated with garlic by making a paste or simply by eating a clove on a daily basis.
Another option for home treatment is using garlic oil mixed with vitamin E or taking garlic tablets.
- Probiotics – Taking a daily dose of probiotics in pill form or in fermented drinks like kombucha has been shown to have a favorable benefit in the promotion of healthy bacterial gut flora.
Treatment for Bacterial Vaginosis
If you have bacterial vaginosis, you doctor will generally prescribe one of the following treatments:
Metronidazole – This medication may also be called Metrogel-Vaginal or Flagyl. This is a pill that is taken orally for five to seven days. Metronidazole also comes as a topical gel.
Clindamycin – Also known as Clindesse or Cleocin, this medication comes as a cream. The treatment consists of inserting the cream into your vagina for the prescribed amount of time, usually five to seven days. Clindamycin is known to weaken latex condoms for up to three days after you use the cream.
Tinidazole or Tindamax – This is an oral medication. Like Metronidazole, it has a tendency to cause an upset stomach.
It’s important to take all the medication as prescribed, even if your symptoms go away. Stopping your medication too early may cause a risk of recurrence of infection and antibiotic resistant bacteria.
Despite treatment, sometimes bacterial vaginosis comes back within three to twelve months. Researchers are investigating new medications for women who have recurring or chronic infections.
How to Get Rid of a Yeast Infection
Getting rid of a yeast infection can be done using home remedies for milder infections or by consulting your physician for a prescription. You might also want to purchase an at-home pH test to determine if your pH factor is over 4.5. This may indicate that you have some type of infection other than a yeast infection.
If your pH level is 4 or lower, it is likely that you have a yeast infection and may be able to treat it at home. However, if you are pregnant, have been exposed to an STD, or have recurring yeast infections, it is advisable to still see your doctor for a complete examination.
Home Remedies for a Yeast Infection
Coconut Oil – Coconut oil has strong antifungal properties that can be used as a carrier oil in combination with other essential oils like oil of oregano or tea tree oil.
Oil of Oregano – Generally, oregano oil is made from common oregano, or origanum marjoram, and it does not have curative properties. However, oil of oregano, or origanum vulgare, is made from wild oregano and contains two powerful antifungal properties called carvacrol and thymol.
Some research has shown that wild oregano oil can prevent the growth of Candida albicans. Insert a capsule of oil of oregano into the vagina at night before bedtime. Another option would be to apply the oil to a tampon.
- Apple Cider Vinegar – Drinking one or two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar every day has been shown to fight the growth of candida. You can add it to a cup of tea or a glass of water sip it throughout the day or once in the morning. Use apple cider vinegar to replace white vinegar in different recipes like your salad dressing.
You can also apply apple cider vinegar externally as a compress or by adding it to your bath water. Soak a cloth with full strength apple cider vinegar and apply it to the affected area. Rinse with plain water after 30 minutes.
- Plain Yogurt – As with bacterial vaginosis, the use of plain yogurt introduces good bacteria back into your vagina. Make sure that the yogurt contains lactobacillus acidophilus.
Over the Counter Treatment for a Yeast Infection
Over the counter medications for yeast infections are easily available and should quickly relieve the uncomfortable and itchy symptoms.
Vaginal creams are also an option and are available over the counter. The medication comes with an applicator to administer a pre-measured dose inside of your vagina. These creams are available in one-day, three-day, and seven-day applications.
Yeast Infection Prescriptions
A commonly prescribed medication is called Diflucan, also known as fluconazole. It comes in pill form and cures infections in a few days about 90 percent of the time.
You can also get a prescription from an online doctor . It’s easy, a little less embarrassing, and you don’t have to wait long for an appointment. It’s also affordable as your insurance will cover the cost of the appointment. If you don’t have insurance you can pay a flat rate fee of $99. Book an appointment here to speak with an online doctor about bacterial vaginosis and yeast infection treatment.
Preventing a Yeast Infection and Bacterial Vaginosis
Even though these infections are very common in women, there are still ways to protect yourself by reducing your risk factors.
Healthy Hygiene – Practicing good hygiene will lower your risk of getting an infection. Do not use a douche, soap, or perfumed cleansers. Change your tampon or pad several times a day.
Healthy Eating Habits – There is some evidence that sugar helps promote the growth of yeast. Some experts advise eating a diet that is low in sugar and eliminating certain foods such as white flour, foods that contain gluten, alcoholic drinks fermented with yeast, and some types of dairy products. Consider choosing alternative foods that are high in fiber and green vegetables, eggs, beans, lean proteins, fish, nuts, and drinking herbal tea.
Keep Yourself Dry – Keeping your lady parts dry and free from moisture will help protect you from growing bad bacteria. Yeast thrives in moist and humid environments. Wear cotton underwear and avoid thongs or tight pants. Try to stick to natural fabrics such as silk or cotton.
Birth Control Options – Extra estrogen from your birth control pills may lead to more production of yeast in your body. Consider using birth control pills that don’t contain estrogen, such as progesterone-only pills or an IUD. This will reduce the risk of bacteria like candida from growing into an infection.
Think you may have a yeast infection or BV? Book an appointment with a PlushCare physician and get a prescription today!
Read more of our Sexual Health Series:
- What is Bacterial Vaginosis? Signs, Symptoms, Treatments and More
- How do I know if I have a Yeast Infection?
- UTI vs. Yeast Infection: What’s The Difference?
US Pharm. 2008;33(9):Epub.
The Vagisil Screening Kit is an in-home test that allows a woman to screen for the presence of vaginal infection by measuring her vaginal pH (FIGURE 1). Adult women commonly develop vaginal infections, but the symptoms they experience lead many of them to believe that they have a yeast infection and self-treat it with OTC products.1 Sometimes, what appears to be a yeast infection may actually be a bacterial infection, which requires treatment by a health care practitioner (HCP).1 Typical symptoms of vaginal infection include burning, itching, unusual odor, and discharge.1
Estrogen stimulates the production of glycogen in the vaginal epithelial cells.2 Lactobacillus, a genus of bacterium commonly found in the vagina, produces hydrogen peroxide and lactic acid as a by-product of glycogen metabolism.2 These substances maintain a pH of 3.5 to 4.5.3 When vaginal pH remains in this range, suppression of abnormal vaginal bacteria occurs; however, this does not apply to yeast, which exists in the presence of normal vaginal pH.4 A vaginal pH of greater than 5 has been correlated with abnormal vaginal conditions such as trichomoniasis and bacterial vaginosis.2 Vaginal pH level, together with a culture or microscopy, may assist in the diagnosis of abnormal vaginal conditions.
Indication and Usage
Developed by Combe Incorporated, the Vagisil Screening Kit is designed for use by women who experience symptoms of vaginosis.5 Usage instructions are given in TABLE 1. The Vagisil Screening Kit should be used only by women with normal menstrual periods. The kit does not test for diseases like Group B streptococcus or for sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV, chlamydia, herpes, gonorrhea, or syphilis. The kit should not be used for 72 hours after application of vaginal preparations (e.g., contraceptive creams and internal yeast infection products). The kit also should not be used within 48 hours of sexual intercourse or douching or within five days of menses. Perimenopause, menopause, or the presence of cervical mucus, blood, or semen may result in abnormal vaginal-pH results.5
Roy et al conducted a study of the role of OTC vaginal pH self-test products in improving the use of antifungal medications.6 The study’s objectives were to: 1) assess patients’ ability to understand how to use a vaginal pH self-test product to diagnose vaginitis; 2) determine whether there is similarity between vaginal pH readings by patients and by HCPs; and 3) decide whether a vaginal pH self-test product can help reduce the inappropriate use of OTC antifungal medications. The patients were of varied backgrounds, educational levels (range, 0 years of formal education to graduate school), and ages (range, 17 to 73 years). Of the 151 women studied, 33 (22%) were asymptomatic and 118 (78%) were symptomatic. Of the 118 symptomatic patients, 96 were premenopausal, were not pregnant, and had a uterus in situ. Since a final diagnosis was not supplied by the HCP for eight patients, 88 symptomatic patients were used for analysis. A vaginal pH level exceeding 4.5 was considered to be a positive finding for conditions that result in vaginitis. Patients with a pH under 4.5 were deemed “normal”; those with no pH reading were designated “no conclusion” or “no response.”
According to HCP diagnosis, 32% of patients (n = 28) had a yeast infection, 23% (n = 21) had a bacterial infection or trichomoniasis, and 45% (n = 39) were normal.6 In comparison, patient self-diagnosis was as follows: 43% (22/51) believed that they had a yeast infection, 26% (13/51) thought that they had a bacterial or trichomonal infection, and 31% (16/51) thought that they had no infection. Consequently, if participants had self-treated with an OTC antifungal, 57% would have been wrong. See TABLE 2.
The patient questionnaire, administered after the patient read the package insert and performed the self-test, assessed how well the patient understood the modified instructions in the package insert.6 When asked if the test was easy to use, 146 patients said yes, two said no, and three did not respond; thus, 97% of patients found the test easy to use. When asked if the instructions were easy to follow, 145 patients said yes, three said no, and three did not respond; thus, 96% found the instructions easy to follow.
The Vagisil Screening Kit is a convenient and useful tool for women who experience symptoms indicative of a vaginal infection. This product is only for assessment of a condition; it does not identify specific types or causes of infection.7 For more information about the Vagisil Screening Kit, contact Combe Incorporated at (800) 431-2610.
1. Coyle EA, Prince RA. Urinary tract infections and prostatitis. In: DiPiro JT, Talbert RL, Yee GC, et al. Pharmacotherapy: A Pathophysiologic Approach. 7th ed. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill; 2008:1899-1913.
2. Vagisil® Vaginal Health Initiative Advisory Board. Clinical management of vulvovaginitis: pH-based approach to patient assessment. White Plains, NY: Combe Inc; 2007.
3. Nester EW, Anderson DG, Roberts CE Jr, et al. Microbiology: A Human Perspective. 4th ed. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill; 2004:304-306,639-640.
4. Borchardt KA, Noble MA, eds. Sexually Transmitted Diseases: Epidemiology, Pathology, Diagnosis, and Treatment. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press; 1997:4-39.
5. Vagisil Screening Kit package insert. White Plains, NY: Combe Inc; 2007.
6. Roy S, Caillouette JC, Faden JS, et al. Improving appropriate use of antifungal medications: the role of an over-the-counter vaginal pH self-test device. Infect Dis Obstet Gynecol. 2003;11:209-216.
7. Vagisil Women’s Health Center. Introducing the Vagisil™ Screening Kit for vaginal infections. http://newsroom.vagisil.com/product_news_1.shtml. Accessed August 20, 2008.
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What does this test do? This is a home-use test kit to measure the pH of your vaginal secretions.
What is pH? pH is a way to describe how acidic a substance is. It is given by a number on a scale of 1-14. The lower the number, the more acidic the substance.
What type of test is this? This is a quantitative test — you find out how acidic your vaginal secretions are.
Why should you do this test? You should do this test to help evaluate if your vaginal symptoms (i.e., itching, burning, unpleasant odor, or unusual discharge) are likely caused by an infection that needs medical treatment. The test is not intended for HIV, chlamydia, herpes, gonorrhea, syphilis, or group B streptococcus.
How accurate is this test? Home vaginal pH tests showed good agreement with a doctor’s diagnosis. However, just because you find changes in your vaginal pH, doesn’t always mean that you have a vaginal infection. pH changes also do not help or differentiate one type of infection from another. Your doctor diagnoses a vaginal infection by using a combination of: pH, microscopic examination of the vaginal discharge, amine odor, culture, wet preparation, and Gram stain.
Does a positive test mean you have a vaginal infection? No, a positive test (elevated pH) could occur for other reasons. If you detect elevated pH, you should see your doctor for further testing and treatment. There are no over-the-counter medications for treatment of an elevated vaginal pH.
If test results are negative, can you be sure that you do not have a vaginal infection? No, you may have an infection that does not show up in these tests. If you have no symptoms, your negative test could suggest the possibility of chemical, allergic, or other noninfectious irritation of the vagina. Or, a negative test could indicate the possibility of a yeast infection. You should see your doctor if you find changes in your vaginal pH or if you continue to have symptoms.
How do you do this test? You hold a piece of pH paper against the wall of your vagina for a few seconds, then compare the color of the pH paper to the color on the chart provided with the test kit. The number on the chart for the color that best matches the color on the pH paper is the vaginal pH number.
Is the home test similar to your doctor’s test? Yes. The home vaginal pH tests are practically identical to the ones sold to doctors. But your doctor can provide a more thorough assessment of your vaginal status through your history, physical exam, and other laboratory tests than you can using a single pH test in your home.
- MedlinePlus: Vaginal Diseases
V-Box – 5 Panel Vaginal Health Test Pack
Concerned about unusual changes in the color, odor, or texture down under? Now you can screen for all common causes of abnormal vaginal discharge from the comfort of your home. As easy as 1-2-3. No awkward conversations, no hassle.
Far more comprehensive than other vaginal discharge tests, the myLAB Box Vaginal Health Combo panel uses advanced DNA technology to detect the specific genetic material causing the infection and deliver extremely accurate results. This is the best method available to screen for abnormal vaginal discharge.
The test covers all infectious causes of abnormal vaginal discharge: yeast infections, bacterial vaginosis (BV), trichomoniasis, chlamydia and gonorrhea.
Use the kit instructions to collect your sample in as little as 5 minutes. Mail it to the lab using the pre-addressed stamped envelope (postage paid). Receive secure electronic results back in a matter of days. Enjoy peace of mind knowing you’ve tested thoroughly. It’s that easy!
What’s included: 1 (ONE) mail-in lab kit of vaginal health tests screening for:
- vaginal yeast infections
- bacterial vaginal infections (BV aka bacterial vaginosis)
- trichomoniasis (trich)
For your convenience the kit also includes: simple to use instructions and postage pre-paid return envelope.
What Causes Abnormal Vaginal Discharge:
Vaginal discharge that changes in color, odor, or texture may be a sign of vaginitis. Vaginitis is an irritation of the vagina that may also cause itching, burning, redness, or swelling. This condition can be uncomfortable but is easy to treat once it is diagnosed.
Vaginitis in women is most often caused by one of these common vaginal infections:
- Vaginal candidiasis, or “yeast”
- Bacterial vaginosis, or BV
- Trichomoniasis, or “trich”
Vaginal discharge changes in color, odor, or texture may be a sign of vaginitis. Vaginitis is an irritation of the vagina that may also cause itching, burning, redness, or swelling. While in most cases the cause could be an imbalance in the vaginal flora, the cause could also be a sexually transmitted infection like chlamydia and gonorrhea. This can occur even if you have not been sexually active for awhile so it is important early to avoid complications. This condition can be uncomfortable but is easy to treat once it is diagnosed.
Vaginal discharge and related symptoms, such as itching, burning, and redness, can also be signs of chlamydia and gonorrhea. These are two of the most common sexually transmitted infections (STIs). They can cause very serious problems for women if they are not treated. The good news is that with the right treatment, both chlamydia and gonorrhea can be cured.
Yeast, BV, and trich infections may also put you at risk for serious problems if they are not diagnosed and treated. The V-Box Vaginal Health Combo panel can test for all 5 of these infections. And because the myLAB Box panel uses modern genetic technology that tests for more strains of bacteria and yeast than other panels, you can be assured of getting highly accurate results.
What Is a Yeast Infection?
Vaginal candidiasis, or “yeast” is a fungal infection that occurs when too much yeast grows in the vagina. The overgrowth of yeast can cause itching and other irritating symptoms that get worse the longer you have the infection.
Yeast infections are not STIs but it is possible to pass a yeast infection to your partner during sex. It is important for your partner to get tested and treated if there is any sign of a yeast infection.
SYMPTOMS OF A YEAST INFECTION CAN INCLUDE:
- A thick, white vaginal discharge that looks like cottage cheese but has no odor
- Itching, burning, and/or redness and swelling in and around the vagina
- Pain during sex
- Discomfort when urinating
Since the symptoms of a yeast infection are similar to those of BV and other sexually-transmitted infections (STIs), it may ease your worries to get tested and know for sure if you have a yeast infection. The myLAB Box Vaginal Health Combo panel uses DNA technology to test for several types of yeast that cause fungal infections in the vagina. At-home test kits that screen only for basic strains of yeast may be more likely to give false negative or less accurate results.
What Is BV?
Bacterial vaginosis, or BV is a very treatable infection is caused by a change in the natural balance of bacteria in the vagina. You get BV when the normal level of one kind of bacteria, Lactobacillus, is replaced by high levels of other bacteria. The most common bacteria found in BV is Gardnerella vaginalis. The myLAB Box Vaginal Health Combo panel tests for multiple types of bacteria that may cause BV, including Gardnerella vaginalis, making it highly accurate. At-home test kits that screen for fewer types of bacteria may not be able to confirm you have BV and are more likely to have false negative results.
You may get BV after having sex with a new partner or your current partner. Without treatment, BV may increase your chances of getting HIV or other STIs, such as chlamydia or gonorrhea. Having BV while pregnant puts you at greater risk of delivering your baby too early.
SYMPTOMS OF BV CAN INCLUDE:
- A thin white or gray vaginal discharge
- Pain, itching, or burning in the vagina
- A strong fishy odor, especially after sex
- Burning when urinating
- Itching around the outside of the vagina.
Many women with BV have no symptoms. But if you have symptoms, you should be tested and treated.
What Is Trich?
Trichomoniasis, or “trich” is a common curable STD that is caused by a tiny parasite called T. vaginalis that spreads easily during sex. The most common symptom of trich is an itchy, smelly, vaginal discharge – but only about 30% of people who get trich have any symptoms.
Having trich during pregnancy may increase the chances of giving birth too early or having a baby who is too small (less than 5.5 pounds).
A trich infection will not go away without treatment. And people who get trich can get it again after treatment. Trich can also increase the risk of getting or spreading other STIs. That’s why it’s important to get tested and to make sure your sexual partners get screened and treated if they are infected.
The highly sensitive DNA technology used for the myLAB Box trich test is considered the “gold standard” for detecting a trich infection.
Trich infection is more common in women but men can get trich, too. Even if they don’t have symptoms, men can still infect their partners. Encourage your partner to get tested for trich (https://www.mylabbox.com/product/trichomoniasis-home-test-kit/).
SYMPTOMS OF A TRICHOMONIASIS INFECTION IN WOMEN CAN INCLUDE:
- a frothy vaginal discharge that can be clear, white, yellowish or greenish with an unusual fishy odor
- itching, burning, redness, or soreness in the vaginal area
- discomfort when urinating
myLAB Box offers at-home collection of samples that are mailed to our CLIA-certified and CAP-accredited laboratory. The testing performed on your samples complies with all state and federal regulations regarding laboratory testing.
What Happens If I Test Positive?
If you test positive, get free medical consults by phone and, if applicable, treatment.
Treatment at this time is available only for chlamydia, gonorrhea, and trichomoniasis infections.
Laboratory tests for fungal infection
Fungal elements are sometimes difficult to find, especially if the tissue is very inflamed, so a negative result does not rule out fungal infection.
A yeast infection can be identified by the presence of:
- Yeast cells, which may be dividing by budding
- Pseudohyphae (branched filaments similar to those of a dermatophyte) forming a pseudomycelium.
Culture of fungi
Culture identifies which organism is responsible for the infection:
- To find out the source of infection e.g. a particular animal
- To select the most suitable treatment.
Growing the fungus in culture may take several weeks, incubated at 25–30ºC. The specimen is inoculated into a medium such as Sabouraud’s dextrose agar containing cycloheximide and chloramphenicol. The cycloheximide is left out if a mould requires identification.
A negative culture may arise because:
- The condition is not due to fungal infection.
- The specimen was not collected properly.
- Antifungal treatment had been used before the collection of the specimen.
- There was a delay before the specimen reached the laboratory.
- The laboratory procedures were incorrect.
- The organism grows very slowly.
The culture of yeasts and moulds may be due to harmless colonisation rather than infection; this is common in an underlying skin disease such as psoriasis.
Blood tests for patients with deep or disseminated fungal infection
Blood tests are not useful for the diagnosis of superficial fungal infections. In subcutaneous and systemic mycoses, several tests may be helpful.
- Antibodies (histoplasmosis, coccidioidomycosis)
- Antigen (cryptococcosis, aspergillosis, candidosis, histoplasmosis).
Molecular biology techniques
Point-of-care tests for some fungal infections are reported to be accurate but are not yet widely available.
How is it used?
Fungal tests are used to help detect and diagnose a fungal infection, to help guide treatment, and/or to monitor the effectiveness of treatment.
- For many superficial skin and yeast infections, a clinical examination of the affected body part(s) and microscopic examination of the sample may be sufficient to determine that a fungal infection is present. The specific organism is not always identified. The healthcare practitioner has several topical and oral antifungal treatment options and bases the choice(s) on practice guidelines and experience.
- For persistent, deeper, or systemic infections, several tests may be used for diagnosis and monitoring.
- Fungal cultures are used to identify the specific fungi present. Many fungi are slow-growing, so it may take weeks for results. Susceptibility testing performed on fungi isolated from a culture is used to determine which antifungal is best to use for treatment.
- Tests for fungal antigens and antibodies may be used to determine if an individual has, or recently had, a specific fungal infection. They are more rapid than fungal cultures but only test for a specific fungal species, so the healthcare practitioner has to know what fungal organism to test for. Many people have fungal antibodies from a prior exposure to the organism, so a single antibody test may not confirm the presence of a current infection. Sometimes, blood samples are collected 2 to 3 weeks apart (acute and convalescent samples) and tested to see if antibody levels (titers) are changing; the evaluation of these results may take several weeks.
- Molecular tests may be performed to identify fungi grown in culture and sometimes may be used to detect a specific fungus directly in the sample collected.
The following tables summarize uses of various fungal tests:
Tests for Superficial Fungal Infections
|Test Name||Sample Type(s)||Description||Uses||Time for Results|
|KOH prep (potassium hydroxide solution)||Skin scrapings, hair or nail clippings, tissue, vaginal swab, body fluids, sputum||The sample is placed on a slide and the chemical solution dissolves non-fungal elements; reveals yeast cells and fungal hyphae (branching filaments) on a microscope slide; examined by a healthcare practitioner or trained laboratorian.||Primary screening tool; detects fungi but does not tell what specific fungus is present.||Rapid|
|Calcofluor white stain||Skin scrapings, hair or nail clippings, vaginal swab, body fluids, sputum||Stain binds to fungal elements in a sample and fluoresces (glows) under ultraviolet light; allows visualization on microscope slide; more sensitive means of visualizing fungi.||Detects fungi but does not tell what specific fungus is present.||Rapid|
|Fungal culture||Skin, nail, hair, body fluids, tissue, vaginal swab, sputum, blood||A sample is placed on or into nutrient media and incubated to grow any fungi present in sample.||Primary tool to diagnose a fungal infection; grows fungi for identification tests and subsequent susceptibility testing.||Weeks|
When a more definitive diagnosis is needed, as in cases of persistent, deep, or systemic infections, more extensive testing may be required to identify which fungus is causing the infection and help determine the treatment that may be most effective. This usually involves a combination of the tests mentioned above plus the following tests:
Tests for Systemic Fungal Infections
|Test Name||Sample Type(s)||Description||Uses||Time for Results|
|Susceptibility testing||Sample of fungus isolated in culture||Follow-up to fungal culture; when a pathogenic fungus has been identified, susceptibility testing is sometimes ordered to determine the most effective antifungal agent(s) to use.||Guide treatment||Days to weeks after culture|
|Antigen testing||Blood, urine, CSF, body fluids||Detects proteins associated with a specific fungus. This type of test is available for a variety of fungi.||Diagnose infection by specific fungus||Day(s); rapid tests are available for some fungi (e.g., Cryptococcus, Histoplasma species)|
|Antibody testing||Blood, CSF, body fluids||Detects immune response to a specific fungus; may be ordered on a single sample or on acute and convalescent samples collected 2 to 3 weeks apart.||Diagnose current or recent infection by specific fungus; monitor treatment||Day(s) or weeks|
|Molecular tests for DNA, RNA||Sample of fungus isolated in culture, blood, CSF, body fluids||Detects genetic material of a specific fungus.||Detects some fungi; not yet widely available, some in research settings only||Days to weeks|
When is it ordered?
Fungal tests are ordered whenever a healthcare practitioner suspects that a person’s signs and symptoms are due to a fungal infection. Many signs and symptoms of fungal infections are similar to those caused by bacteria and/or viruses, and fungal tests are often ordered when it is not clear what is causing the condition.
For superficial infections, tests may be ordered when symptoms involving skin, nails, or mucous membranes appear, for example:
- Itchy, red, scaly areas of skin
- Nails that are thickened, brittle, and/or deformed
- White patches in the mouth (thrush)
- Vaginal itching and discharge (yeast infection)
Deep and systemic fungal infections may cause a variety of symptoms depending on the part of the body that is affected. Some examples include:
- Lung infections may produce flu-like symptoms such as coughing, fever, muscle aches, headaches, and rashes.
- Blood infections (septicemia) may cause chills, fever, nausea, and rapid heartbeat.
- Central nervous system (CNS) infections (meningitis) may cause severe persistent headache, stiff neck, and sensitivity to light.
Fungal tests may also be ordered after or periodically during treatment to evaluate its effectiveness or to monitor for infection recurrence.
What does the test result mean?
Interpretation of fungal tests and examinations of slides and cultures often require experience in the study of fungi. Results must be carefully considered, along with signs and symptoms as well as medical history, and sometimes travel history, of the person tested.
Many superficial fungal infections are diagnosed based on a physical examination. In addition to general symptoms, many skin infections have characteristic signs (such as the appearance of infected nails) and typical locations on the body (such as athlete’s foot between the toes). A clinical evaluation cannot, however, definitively tell the healthcare practitioner which microbe is causing a fungal infection. Sometimes a microscopic examination or culture of a sample may be useful in detecting and confirming a fungal infection and may help guide treatment.
Some examples of superficial infections include:
- Yeast infections caused by Candida species
- Athlete’s foot
- Jock itch
- Scalp or hair infection
- Finger or toenail infection
Deep Tissue, Lung, Blood, and Systemic Infections
In cases of persistent, deep, or systemic infections, a definitive diagnosis is needed and more extensive testing may be required to identify which fungus is causing the infection and to guide treatment. This usually involves a combination of several tests that may be performed on samples of sputum or tissue retrieved from the lungs, blood, urine, or spinal fluid. Examples of some serious fungal infections that may be require extensive testing include:
For more on these, see the article on Fungal Infections.
In general, a negative test result means that there is no fungal infection present and symptoms are likely due to another cause. A negative test after a person has been treated for a fungal infection means that the therapy has been successful.
Positive results generally indicate that a fungus is present and sometimes identify the type causing an infection:
- Microscopic examinations (KOH prep or Calcofluor white stain): in general, if fungal elements are seen, then a fungus is the likely the cause of symptoms. These tests, however, do not identify the fungus.
- Culture: care must be taken when interpreting culture results. Interpretation often depends on the type of sample.
- For non-sterile sites, such as the skin, a positive culture will typically identify the fungus or fungi present. The fungi identified may be the type that are disease-causing (pathogenic), the type that only cause disease in people with weakened immune systems (opportunistic), or those that are part of the normal flora. A mixture of these types may also be present.
- Sterile samples, such as blood, CSF, or tissues that are properly collected will not be contaminated with normal flora. A positive culture identifies the fungus or fungi causing the infection.
- A positive antigen test means that it is likely that the fungus tested is the cause of the person’s infection.
- A positive antibody test result in a single blood sample indicates exposure to a specific fungus, but it does not indicate whether the exposure was recent or in the past. On the other hand, a rise in the level of antibody (titer) between two serum samples collected 2-3 weeks apart (acute and convalescent) indicates an active or recent fungal infection.
- Molecular tests: detection of a specific fungus with a molecular test indicates a likely infection with that fungus if the test was performed on a sample from a sterile body site, such as blood, CSF or tissue.
Is there anything else I should know?
If a fungus that is causing an infection is not present in sufficient amount in a sample, a test to detect and/or identify the fungus may be falsely negative.
For antibody testing, some infected individuals with weakened immune systems may not produce antibodies as expected.
Fungal infections must frequently be distinguished from infections caused by other microbes, such as bacteria. In some cases, an infection may have both bacteria and fungi present. Tests that may be used to identify or rule out other causes include:
- Gram stain – a rapid test performed to microscopically detect bacteria and/or fungi in a sample.
- Bacterial culture – used to rule out a bacterial infection or determine if concurrent bacterial infection exists.
- AFB testing – ordered when a mycobacterial infection such as tuberculosis is suspected.
- Blood culture – ordered when septicemia is suspected.
Fungi thrive in moist environments, such as surfaces in and around public swimming pools and gym locker rooms, inside sweaty shoes and socks, in skin folds, and wherever skin is kept moist by constrictive clothing. Fungal skin infections can be minimized by wearing flip-flops or sandals when walking around the pool or locker room, by changing socks and underwear at least once a day, drying out shoes, and keeping moist areas of the body clean and dry.
If I have a persistent cough and fever, why would my healthcare provider ask me where I have been traveling and what activities I have been doing?
Some fungi are found in distinct geographical regions, such in the southwestern U.S. or midwestern U.S. If you have been around excavation or spelunking in caves, you may have been exposed to fungal spores. This can be true, even if travel was not recent. Lung infections caused by some fungi may emerge months to even years after exposure. (For more on this, see Travelers’ Diseases.)
If my healthcare provider thinks I have a fungal infection, why am I being tested for tuberculosis?
Many of the signs and symptoms associated with fungal lung infections could also be due to a tuberculosis infection. Generally, a healthcare practitioner would order tuberculosis testing (such as an AFB smear and culture) to rule out infection with Mycobacterium tuberculosis (the bacteria that cause tuberculosis) as the cause of your symptoms. The organisms that cause both fungal lung infections and tuberculosis tend to be slow-growing, both in the body and in the laboratory.
Will my fungal infection eventually resolve itself without treatment?
Some may, but most persist without treatment. Lung and systemic infections may grow progressively worse and cause permanent tissue and organ damage even when symptoms are not severe. Some deep infections are almost uniformly fatal without treatment.
Is it really necessary to continue treatment for a long period of time?
Yes. Even if you start feeling better in a short period of time, you should follow your healthcare provider’s recommendations. While yeast infections may resolve within a few days to weeks, some fungal infections may require months or even years of consistent treatment.