Antifungal medications fight the fungus that causes a yeast infection to help relieve symptoms and clear the infection completely. These medications are available as oral pills and topical medications that are applied directly to the vagina to cure vaginal infections. Choosing the best antifungal for a yeast infection involves determining which type of medication or combination of medications will provide the quickest and most efficient symptom relief and cure for the infection.
Some people prefer to take an oral antifungal for a yeast infection. Oral medications are typically more potent than topical preparations, so they are often a better choice for severe infections. Antifungals taken by mouth do not provide immediate symptom relief, however, though many oral antifungals require just a single dose of medication. In many countries, an oral antifungal for a yeast infection must be given or prescribed by a physician.
Topical antifungal medications are often used for vaginal yeast infections and are available over-the-counter in many countries. A cream antifungal for a yeast infection is typically applied around and in the vagina and can help provide temporary relief from burning and itching as it fights the infection. Antifungal vaginal suppositories are also available and usually come with disposable applicators. A topical antifungal for a yeast infection is usually used for several days, though single dose vaginal suppositories are available.
Since oral antifungals are often given as a single dose, they are less disruptive and aren’t prone to forgetfulness. A topical antifungal for a yeast infection typically relies on several applications over three to seven days and is most effective when the treatment is applied exactly as directed. Some people find topical applications messy and difficult to apply, making them a less desirable choice, but they do provide symptom relief immediately in many cases. Applying topical medications or suppositories before bed can help patients remember to use the medication daily and minimize the mess since they are lying down.
Some people with a yeast infection require combination treatment. Topical antifungals are usually the first choice to treat an infection, but oral and topical medications can be used together for particularly severe infections. In some areas, stronger topical medications are only available through a physician, though regulations vary. Most yeast infections clear with combination therapy and further treatment is usually unnecessary unless the infections recur frequently.
It is important to have a doctor diagnose a yeast infection before attempting to treat it with an antifungal. While a prescription-strength antifungal for a yeast infection often isn’t necessary, symptoms of yeast infections could actually be symptoms of a different type of infection. These infections aren’t usually serious, but they may require a different type of medication or method of treatment.