Getting a yeast infection is not at all an automatic sign that you are an unclean person and have poor hygiene standards. There are after all several causing factors that can trigger an overgrowth of the fungus Candida Albicans that leads to a yeast infection. But there is a link between hygiene and yeast infections, poor hygiene can be a trigger or a reason for a yeast infection to be prolonged. Also true is the fact that what you may consider to be ‘good’ hygiene practices can also trigger a yeast infection, or make an existing condition worse.
This article looks in more detail at how hygiene and yeast infections are linked, and what you can do to ensure you minimize your chances of getting an infection, or if you have an existing one, what you can do to maximize your treatment results. In particular when referring to a yeast infection in this article we are thinking of the vaginal infection, though advise here can be used for any form of yeast infection, for men, women and babies.
What is a yeast infection
In order to understand how hygiene and yeast infections are linked you need to know what a yeast infection actually is. On many of us is a fungus called Candida Albicans. Its growth is kept under control by helpful bacteria also living in our bodies and so stays dormant and harmless. But if something upsets that balance, perhaps alters the pH of the vagina, kills natural flora, then the fungus grabs the opportunity presented to it, and grows. It grows quickly and once numbers are more than a body should have it leads to a yeast infection. Yeast infections are recognizable by the symptoms of redness, itching, inflammation, irritation, a possible thick cheesy discharge, pain when having sex and pain when urinating. Three quarters of women will have to deal with at least one yeast infection in their lives, though self diagnosis is unwise, since these symptoms can also be signs of other vaginal infections or even STDs.
Poor hygiene and yeast infections
If you are not cleaning regularly you are allowing the natural environment of the vagina to change. As well as bad bacteria being a problem it is likely the area is always moist and warm which creates the perfect condition for the fungus to breed. It is important that as well as cleaning yourself regularly, you also dry yourself properly afterwards. Change out of dirty clothing as often as is needed, in particular change underwear if it becomes damp.
‘Good’ hygiene and yeast infections
- Scented soaps – This includes bubble baths, shower gels and so on. They may smell nice but the perfume and dye chemicals in them upsets the natural balance of the vagina’s flora. Use unscented and gentle soaps for cleaning when you are in the shower or bath.
- Scented tampons and other feminine products – any kind of perfumed product will just aggravate any existing condition, or could upset the vagina’s balance enough to cause an infection.
- Laundry detergent – needs to be the sensitive kind, nothing with harsh strong chemicals.
- Douching – A very bad idea, and is a practice women need to stop. You are upsetting the balance, killing good bacteria and making things a lot worse. The vagina is self-cleaning, all that is needed is to shower or bathe regularly, and to dry properly afterwards. There is meant to be a natural discharge as this helps protect the area from bacteria that may be harmful.
It is hard as a woman to know what the right thing to do is sometimes. Adverts and shops are stocked full with these products that suggest to us we would be cleaner and healthier if we use them. But it is better for your health and your wallet if you overcome this stereotype and false advertising. That you need these items in order to be clean is a complete myth. Here are a few tips to get you on your way to a good hygiene routine.
- When washing the vagina use mild soap or even just water and just wash the external part.
- Remember to dry well after washing or after anything that gets you wet, such as swimming or a workout.
- When using the toilet make sure you wipe front to back so that you do not wipe bacteria into the vagina.
- Wear cotton underwear as it allows the skin to breathe, wear loose clothing more often so that you keep the area drier.