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How Long Does a Yeast Infection Last? Plus, Your Options for Treatment

How long will it last?

This depends on two factors: how severe the infection is and how it’s treated.

Mild yeast infections may clear up in as few as three days. Sometimes, they don’t even require treatment. But moderate to severe infections may take one to two weeks to clear.

Over-the-counter (OTC) treatments and home remedies are often effective for mild infections, but they aren’t as powerful as prescription options. If you have a severe yeast infection, you may experience symptoms longer if you use a milder treatment.

In rare cases, a yeast infection may clear without treatment. However, you’ll still need to help restore your vagina’s natural balance of yeast and bacteria. Yeast infections that aren’t properly treated are also more likely to recur — as well as increase in severity.

Keep reading to learn more about the different treatment options available and when to see your doctor.

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Home remedies

Home remedies for yeast infections

If your symptoms are mild, you may be able to clear your yeast infection with home remedies. However, you should keep in mind that many of these treatment options aren’t supported by reputable studies. Doctors rarely recommended them over established OTC and prescription treatments.

Probiotics

The good bacteria, or probiotics, found in yogurt may help restore the bacterial balance in your vagina. Although you can eat yogurt for the benefit, some women find faster relief by applying it directly to the vagina.

For either method, look for a Greek-style yogurt that has no added sugar.

To apply the yogurt to your vagina:

  1. When you’re ready, rest on a towel on your bed or a flat surface.
  2. Apply a spoonful of yogurt to your hands or a washcloth.
  3. With one hand, gently pull back the folds of your vagina. With the other hand, pat the yogurt onto your vulva.
  4. You can also insert some into your vagina.
  5. You can leave the yogurt, or wait 10 to 15 minutes, and gently remove it with a moist washcloth.
  6. Repeat this technique two times a day to relieve symptoms.
  7. Be sure to wash your hands well before and after application.

If you aren’t interested in a topical application, you can try eating the yogurt twice a day. If you can, continue to eat yogurt daily after the infection clears. This can help maintain regular bacterial balance.

Tea tree oil

Tea tree oil is an essential oil that can be used to kill viruses, bacteria, and fungi. A 2015 study found that the oil may be an effective treatment for a yeast infection, too.

To insert the oil into your vagina:

  1. Mix the tea tree oil with a carrier oil, like coconut. A 95-to-5 percent ratio is suggested.
  2. Fill a suppository applicator with the mixture.
  3. Lie on your back with your legs apart.
  4. Use one hand to gently pull back the folds of your vagina.
  5. Use the other hand to slide the applicator into your vagina. Push to inject the mixture.
  6. Remove the applicator, and wash your hands.

You should only use this treatment three to four times. If it isn’t effective at treating the infection after four applications, see your doctor.

Boric acid

Boric acid is a powerful antiseptic. In some small studies, a boric acid solution successfully eliminated strains of yeast that cause yeast infections.

To insert the acid into your vagina:

  1. Mix water with the acid at a ratio of 2-to-1. Boric acid can irritate the skin, so it’s important to have more water than acid in the mixture.
  2. Fill a suppository applicator with the acid mixture.
  3. Lie on your back on your bed. Bend your legs at your knees, feet on the ground.
  4. With one hand, hold back the folds of your vagina.
  5. With the other, insert the applicator. Push to insert the mixture.
  6. Remove the applicator and wash your hands.

You can use this treatment two times per day for up to two weeks. If the mixture is too irritating, stop using it and see your doctor.

You shouldn’t use this remedy if you’re pregnant.

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OTC treatments

Over-the counter (OTC) options

Women who have infrequent, mild to moderate yeast infections may find OTC options beneficial. If you have chronic yeast infections, talk with your doctor about more powerful treatment options.

Short-course vaginal therapy

Antifungal drugs known as azoles are the first-line treatment for yeast infections. Short-course treatments are typically available in three- and seven-day doses.

Remember
You should always take the entire course of medication, even if your symptoms disappear early. If you stop treatment too soon, yeast overgrowth may recur, and additional treatment will be necessary.

These medications are available as:

  • creams
  • tablets
  • ointments
  • suppositories

The most common short-course OTCs include:

  • clotrimazole (Gyne-Lotrimin)
  • miconazole (Monistat)
  • tioconazole (Vagistat)

These medications may cause mild burning or irritation when they’re applied.

Although you should avoid sex while you have a yeast infection, use a backup birth control method, such as the patch, while taking these medications. Oil-based creams and suppositories can weaken condoms and diaphragms.

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Prescription treatments

Prescription options

If your yeast infection is more severe, skip the home remedies and OTCs and see your doctor. You’ll need stronger medication to help ease your symptoms.

Long-course vaginal therapy

As with short-course vaginal therapy, azoles are the standard for long-term antifungals. Your doctor will likely prescribe a 7- or 14-day course of medication.

Prescription-strength azoles are available as:

  • creams
  • ointments
  • tablets
  • suppositories

These most common long-term medications include:

  • butoconazole (Gynazole)
  • terconazole (Terazol)
  • fluconazole (Diflucan)

These medications also have oil-based formulas, so you should consider alternative birth control methods. The oils in these medications may weaken latex in condoms or diaphragms.

Single- or multidose oral medication

Although fluconazole (Diflucan) is typically used as a long-term medication, it can also be prescribed as a one-time oral dose.

Diflucan is a strong medication. A strong single dose may cause side effects.

These may include:

  • nausea
  • upset stomach
  • flu-like symptoms
  • skin rash
  • fever

For this reason — or if your infection is severe — your doctor may prescribe two or three doses to be spread out over time.

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See your doctor

When to see your doctor

If your symptoms don’t resolve within a week or two, see your doctor. The treatment you choose may not have been strong enough to clear the infection, and another therapy may be necessary.

You should also see your doctor if the infection returns within two months. Recurrent yeast infections aren’t uncommon. But having more than one yeast infection in a year could be a sign of an underlying medical condition, like diabetes or pregnancy.

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