The maddening itch of vaginal inflammation may be caused by three different microscopic organisms. One is the yeast-like fungus Candida. As you might guess, Candida is biologically related to moulds in cheese; yeasts in beer, wine, vinegar and bread; yeast-based  vitamins; and mushrooms.

Most of the time, Candida lives compatibly in the intestines and vagina along with other microorganisms that keep Candida in check. Under certain circumstances, though, Candida can overrun its fellow organisms, causing infection and inflammation (candidiasis). The vagina is especially prone to Candida infections for a number of reasons. Mainly, the fungus thrives in the warm, moist climate of the vagina. And Candida from the intestinal tract can easily find their way to the vagina from the nearby rectum, multiplying the chances for infection.

Candida infections are a special problem for people with allergies to yeasts and moulds. Their bodies react to an overgrowth of Candida as they would to any other yeast or mould. Nystatin and other anti-fungal medicines – in tablets or suppositories – can help kill off the fungus. But in allergic people, the itching and inflammation may not go away until all forms of fungus, dietary and internal, are kept under control.

One tactic is to adopt a low-mould diet, says a gynaecologist we spoke to from Sulphur Springs, Arkansas. ‘Eating moulds or yeasts overloads the system, and the infection flares up.’

The low-mould diet is most effective when combined with yoghurt therapy. Yoghurt contains Lactobacillus acidophilus, a special bacteria that suppresses Candida.

‘Candida vaginitis can be controlled by applying yoghurt [live cultures] to the vagina,’ we were told. ‘Eating yoghurt, too, helps by controlling Candida growth in the intestines.’

Chemical irritants aggravate vaginitis of any kind. Women plagued by vaginal inflammation should avoid using deodorant soaps, perfumed sprays, bubble baths and colored or perfumed toilet paper in the vaginal area.

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