Poor hygiene is one of the causes of vaginal yeast infection. Can zinc be used to treat yeast infection? Find out more.

Candidiasis or a yeast infection is common and is caused by Candida albicans yeast. The fungus attacks warm and moist parts of the body, including the skin, mouth, and even your private areas. A vaginal yeast infection, known as vulvovaginal candidiasis, is quite common. There are multiple reasons why it happens and how to treat it. One way is to use zinc to treat vaginal yeast infection. But is it effective?

What is a yeast infection?

A yeast infection is a common fungal infection that occurs when there is an overgrowth of candida albicans. Yeast infections can affect various parts of the body, but they most commonly occur in warm, moist areas such as the vagina, mouth, and skin folds. In women, vaginal yeast infection is the most common type of yeast infection, says gynaecologist Dr Anuradha Sadashivamurthy. It often results from an imbalance of bacteria and yeast in the vagina, which can be triggered by factors such as antibiotics, hormonal changes, pregnancy, diabetes, or a weakened immune system. Poor hygiene practices such as wearing damp or sweaty clothes for a long time and not changing out of wet bathing suits or workout clothes, can promptly create an environment perfect for yeast growth.

Woman holding rose in hands for yeast infection and reproductive system visualisation
Itching is a sign of vaginal yeast infection. Image courtesy: Freepik

What are the signs of vaginal yeast infection?

Some of the signs of a vaginal yeast infection are:

  • Itching and irritation in the vaginal area
  • Burning sensation, especially during urination or sex
  • Redness and swelling of the vulva
  • Thick, white, and odourless vaginal discharge.

How does zinc treat a vaginal yeast infection?

Candida causes about about half-billion cases of vaginal yeast infection every year. It was found that using a zinc gel helped to prevent reinfections in women suffering from recurrent vaginal yeast infection, according to a 2023 study published in the Science Translational Medicine journal.

Zinc is an essential mineral that plays a crucial role in supporting immune function and maintaining overall health, says Dr Sadashivamurthy. Here are some ways in which zinc may potentially aid in the management of yeast infections:

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Vaginal yeast infection: Know the symptoms, causes and treatment

1. Immune support

Zinc is known to support immune function by enhancing the activity of immune cells and promoting immune responses against infections. A strong immune system is essential for combating fungal infections, including yeast infections.

2. Antioxidant properties

Zinc exhibits antioxidant properties, which help protect cells from oxidative stress and inflammation. By reducing oxidative stress and inflammation, zinc may support the body’s ability to combat infections and promote healing.

3. Skin health

Zinc plays a role in maintaining skin health. That is why topical zinc preparations such as zinc oxide or zinc pyrithione are commonly used to treat various skin conditions, including diaper rash, eczema, and fungal infections. It may help alleviate symptoms such as itching, irritation, and redness.

Female reproductive system and yeast infection concept with an underwear
You can apply zinc creams for vaginal yeast infection. Image courtesy: Freepik

How to use zinc for vaginal yeast infection?

Zinc can be used in different ways to treat yeast infections. Therse include topical solutions, consumption of zinc-rich foods, as well as home remedies.

1. Topical zinc preparations

Applying vaginal creams or ointments containing zinc may provide direct relief for symptoms of yeast infections, such as itching, redness, and irritation, says the expert. Zinc oxide, in particular, is known for its soothing and protective properties and is commonly found in diaper rash creams and other topical formulations.

2. Zinc-rich foods

Consuming zinc-rich foods can support overall health and immune function, which may indirectly alleviate yeast infections. Zinc-rich foods include poultry, beans, nuts, seeds, dairy products, and whole grains.

But if you have an allergy or sensitivity to zinc, avoid it, as it can lead to adverse reactions such as skin irritation, rash, or itching. Too much zinc can also be harmful to both mother and baby, so pregnant and breastfeeding women should avoid consuming too much zinc.

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