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Women's Health

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Yeast Infection Treatments: Over-the-Counter Vaginal Creams

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You can treat most vaginal yeast infections with an over-the-counter vaginal cream or suppository. You can buy these nonprescription vaginal creams and suppositories at most large drugstores and supermarkets.

Many yeast infection treatment doses come in one-day, three-day, and seven-day strengths. Many of the over-the-counter vaginal creams and other products you can buy often contain the same ingredients to fight a yeast infection as the medication your doctor might prescribe -- but in less concentrated doses.

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Vaginal Creams

Vaginal creams are typically placed inside the vagina with an applicator to kill off the yeast that cause yeast infections. Vaginal creams, sometimes called "antifungal creams," usually come packaged with an applicator that helps you measure the right dose.

Common examples:

Be sure to read all package directions carefully before using any vaginal cream to treat a yeast infection.

Some vaginal creams are used only at bedtime, because they can be messy and leak out of the vagina during the day. Some of these creams may come with a topical vaginal cream designed to be applied to the opening of the vagina and surrounding tissue (called the "vulva") and used externally, rather than inserted into the vagina. The topical cream may help relieve itching and treat the external tissues while the vaginal antifungal cream treats the yeast infection.

If you use a vaginal cream to treat a yeast infection, you may want to abstain from sex if you're using condoms or a diaphragm for birth control. These oil-based creams can damage the latex in a condom or diaphragm.

Tablets and Suppositories

Some of the same medications (such as clotrimazole and miconazole) are manufactured in vaginal tablets or suppositories to treat yeast infections. You insert these into the vagina and let them dissolve; some brands call them "ovules" because they're oval-shaped. These products often come packaged with a plastic "inserter" that helps you insert the medication into the vagina.

One benefit of a suppository is that it's less messy than a vaginal cream and less apt to ooze out during the day. Another benefit of tablets or suppositories: the doses are used for fewer days, so symptoms are relieved sooner.

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