Vaginitis is a term used to describe several bacterial imbalances in the vagina, whose symptoms include itching, burning, swelling, discharge and possibly odor. The appropriate course of treatment for vaginitis depends of the type of infection you have. Recent research offers evidence that both acidophilus and Betadine may help to relieve symptoms and support the balance of healthy vaginal bacteria. Betadine for gynecological purposes requires the expertise of your women’s health provider. Although acidophilus is available without a prescription, be sure to consult your physician before using it for treatment.
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Vaginitis is a broad term used to describe vaginal inflammation. The condition typically results in discharge, itching and genital pain, and can affect women at any age. There are four categories of vaginitis that differ depending on the cause of the infection and the specific symptoms they produce. Yeast infections, the most common form of vaginitis, are typically caused by the fungus Candida albicans, and affect roughly 75 percent of women at some point in their lifetime, according to the Mayo Clinic. Bacterial vaginosis, another common type, results from an overgrowth of vaginal bacteria, producing an imbalance of anaerobic and lactobacilli bacteria. Vaginitis can also result from trichomoniasis, a sexually transmitted infection, as well as potential vaginal irritants, such as douches, perfumed soaps, and spermicidal products.
Treatment of bacterial vaginitis depends on the type of infection present and the severity of symptoms. In the case of bacterial vaginosis and severe yeast infections, your doctor may prescribe an antifungal medication, such as Flagyl or Diflucan. In instances where bacterial vaginitis results from an external aggravator, treatment generally requires identifying and eliminating the source of vaginal irritation. For home relief of symptoms and preventing future episodes, the Mayo Clinic recommends applying a cold compress to the vagina, wearing cotton underwear and refraining from douching.
Acidophilus for Vaginitis
Acidophilus is known as a “good” bacteria and helps to promote the balanced growth of lactobacilli in the vagina. Found in yogurt and available in nutritional supplements, acidophilus helps to restore vaginal ecology by supporting healthy flora. Research indicates that acidophilus may offer effective treatment of yeast infections and bacterial vaginosis; however, medical scientists agree that further study is required to fully understand the effects and mechanisms of acidophilus in treating vaginitis. Reviews of clinical scholarship published in July 2007 in “Clinical Microbiology and Infections” and in “Expert Opinion in Pharmacoptherapy” in December 2010 indicate that it does help to relieve symptoms, restore vaginal flora and possibly prevent recurrence.
An August 2006 review published in the “Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherpay” examined the use of probiotics, such as acidophilus, for the treatment of yeast infections. The authors conclude that although current research suggests that oral and vaginal supplements of acidophilus may provide curative benefits, further study is needed.
Betadine for Vaginitis
Betadine is a commercial brand of povidone-iodine, an antiseptic used commonly in the treatment of sore throats, and in clinical settings for preventing infections. In gynecology, povidone-iodine has been used for the treatment of vaginosis, candida and other bacterial imbalances. The results of a 2002 study published in the Swiss journal “Dermatology” demonstrated that application of Betadine in women with bacterial vaginosis worked to improve the condition, relieve symptoms and restore healthy vaginal bacteria.
- "Clinical Microbiology and Infection"; Probiotics for the Treatment of Women With Bacterial Vaginosis; M.E. Falagas et al; July 2007
- "Expert Opinions in Pharmacotherapy"; Probiotic Strategies for the Treatment and Prevention of Bacterial Vaginosis"; R.A. MacPhee et al; December 2010
- "Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy"; Probiotics for Prevention of Recurrent Vulvovaginal Candidiasis; M.E. Falagas et al; August 2006
- "Dermatology"; Efficacy of Povidone-Iodine Vaginal Suppositories in the Treatment of Bacterial Vaginosis; G. Wewalka et al; 2002