Not only can yeast infections be uncomfortable and itchy, they can be hard to get rid of. Although yeast infections are typically treated with over-the-counter or prescription creams, some women are turning to home remedies. One such remedy is coconut oil.
It’s also thought to have antibacterial properties, which may make it an effective treatment for yeast infections. Here’s what you need to know about using coconut oil to treat a yeast infection.
What the research says
Coconut oil is an established antifungal. Although research on its use for yeast infections is limited, there’s evidence to suggest that this approach may work.
A 2007 lab study found that coconut oil helped kill a species of yeast. Researchers found that the Candida albicans strain was the most susceptible to concentrated coconut oil. In the study, less coconut oil was needed to get rid of the yeast than fluconazole. Fluconazole is an antifungal medication commonly recommended to treat yeast infections.
Researchers in a 2012 study also found that coconut oil produced maximum results against C. albicans.
A 2014 canine study produced similar results. Twenty dogs were treated with a mixture of essential oils that included coconut oil. This mixture was applied topically for one month. Researchers found that the treatment had a good clinical outcome, with no adverse effects or recurrence reported.
More research is needed to determine the possible short- and long-term effects of use.
How to use coconut oil for a yeast infection
When purchasing coconut oil, be sure to select an organic, pure coconut oil. Some brands may try to pass off a coconut oil blend that won't get you the same results, so look for 100 percent coconut oil. Pure coconut oil typically won't have a strong coconut smell.
You can treat a yeast infection by applying coconut oil straight from the jar to the affected area. You can rub the coconut oil into the skin or skin fold where the yeast infection is.
To treat a yeast infection in the mouth, melt 1 to 2 tablespoons of coconut oil in a microwave for a few seconds. Make sure the oil is a reasonable temperature before swishing it in your mouth for up to 10 seconds. Once the time is up, spit the coconut oil out. You shouldn’t eat or drink anything for the following 30 minutes.
For vaginal yeast infections, some natural health advocates suggest applying coconut oil to a clean tampon and then inserting the tampon.
Risks and warnings
Coconut oil typically doesn’t have any negative side effects.
You shouldn't use coconut oil to treat a yeast infection if you:
- aren't sure if you have a yeast infection
- are on other medications for your yeast infection
- have recurring yeast infections
- are allergic to coconut
Women who are pregnant should consult their doctor before using this home remedy. You should also consult your doctor before using this remedy on children.
Other ways to treat a yeast infection
In addition to trying coconut oil, there are other ways you can try to treat a yeast infection naturally. This includes reducing sugar in your diet and eating bacteria-rich foods such as yogurt. Still, more research is needed to determine the efficacy and safety of these approaches.
Yeast infections are traditionally treated with a mix of OTC and prescription treatments. Antifungal medications may be applied topically, taken orally, or inserted as a suppository. You may experience slight discomfort and irritation if you are applying topically or inserting.
Your doctor may also prescribe an oral medication such as fluconazole. Depending on your needs, your doctor may recommend a single-dose or two-dose regimen.
What you should do now
If you suspect you have a yeast infection, consult your doctor. You need to make sure that you have a yeast infection and not something else, such as a bacterial infection.
If your doctor confirms that you do have a yeast infection and this is your first yeast infection, talk to them about trying coconut oil as a treatment. Coconut oil generally doesn’t have any side effects, so your doctor may be fine with you trying coconut oil before a traditional medication.
If you have chronic yeast infections, however, you should see your doctor before trying to treat your yeast infection at home. Your doctor can work with you to determine the cause and potentially reduce or eliminate the number of yeast infections you have.