Yeast infections are a common nuisance that can be embarrassing to deal with. They tend to be more common in women, many of whom often get them repeatedly, although men and children can also develop them. There are a number of things you can do to reduce the changes of developing yeast infections, although it may not always be possible to prevent them completely.
The most important step you can take is to keep the areas most likely to be infected clean. In women, this is the vagina and the surrounding area. Make sure to wash the entire area each time you take a shower, and dry the area completely before getting dressed. Avoid wearing tight clothing and select cotton underwear and pantyhose with a cotton crotch to discourage the growth of yeast.
In order to keep yourself clean and to prevent an infection from spreading, you should never share washcloths or towels with others. Be sure to always change your clothes right away after swimming or exercising, as sweaty and wet clothes provide the ideal growing conditions for yeasts. When washing your clothes, particularly your underwear, always use hot water. You may want to avoid using dryer fabric softeners as well because the chemicals in them can stay on your clothing and irritate sensitive skin, which can make a yeast infection more likely to develop.
Another step you can take to help avoid yeast infections is to always wipe yourself from the front to the back after using the toilet. It is best to avoid douching, and you should not use scented soaps, talcum powder, or perfumes for the same reason that you should avoid fabric softeners. In addition, use unscented sanitary pads or tampons during your menstrual cycle, and be sure to change them frequently.
The foods and vitamins you eat can also help discourage the growth of yeast. You may want to take a daily supplement specifically designed to prevent yeast infections. In addition, a diet high in vegetables, grains, and proteins can be helpful, as can eating yogurt with live acidophilus bacteria. At the same time, you should avoid drinking alcohol and consuming processed foods and those that are high in sugar, which can make the body more hospitable to yeast growth.
Many people develop a yeast infection when taking antibiotics because this medication kills the natural bacteria that controls the growth of yeast. Only take antibiotics when necessary.
Women should also make sure to use lubrication when having sexual intercourse, and only use a water soluble lubricating gel. It's also a good idea to use a condom when having sex in order to avoid spreading yeast infections, especially if one partner already has one. Some birth control methods, such as the pill, can make infections more likely as well, so a woman who has had an infection in the past may want to ask her healthcare provider about switching to something different.