Dr Flo, for the past two weeks, I have been having constant abdominal pains. I went to the hospital and was diagnosed with vaginal candidiasis. I was given antibiotics which I took and the discharge settled. Even after all this, the discharge has a foul smell. It makes me uneasy. Kindly advise me. Agnes
It is normal to have vaginal discharge after puberty. It is a mixture of fluid and cells that help to keep the vagina clean and moist and to prevent infection. The appearance changes depending on the menstrual cycle, and can also be affected by exercise, stress, use of hormonal medication and sexual arousal.
If there is abnormal colour (yellow, green, sometimes white), itching, a foul smell, or thick, chunky discharge, most likely there is a vaginal infection. The infection may be caused by fungi, bacteria or other organisms.
It would be advisable to visit a gynaecologist so that a sample from the vagina may be taken and examined. The doctor may also ask for a urine test and/or a pelvic ultrasound scan due to the low abdominal pain.
Once the diagnosis is established, you will be put on medication, and given advice on what to do. If the infection is one that is likely to be sexually transmitted, your partner will also require treatment.
Dr Flo, I don't understand what is happening to me. The skin around my private parts is rough with a surface like that of a ringworm. I occasionally get rashes during high temperatures. What might be the problem? Please help. Ian
It sounds as though you have tinea cruris, otherwise known as jock itch. This is a fungal infection of the skin on the genitals, buttocks and inner thighs. It is more common in men, and tends to affect those who sweat a lot, wear tight underwear, have a weak immune system, or are obese.
It causes itching or a burning sensation, a skin lesion with thickening or flaking of the skin, darkening or reddening of the skin, and/or small blister like swellings on the edge of the lesion.
The fungus spreads from person to person through close contact or from shared clothing or towels. The same fungus causes athlete’s foot and it can spread by using the same towel for wiping feet to wipe the rest of the body.
It is diagnosed just by looking at it or by examining skin scrapings in the laboratory. Treatment includes antifungal creams/ointments or powder, or tablets.
To prevent it, clean, dry the groin area well and keep the area dry. Wear clean loose-fitting cotton underwear, preferably boxers; avoid tight trousers; do not share personal items and treat athlete’s foot.
Dr Flo, a doctor told me to eat fruits and vegetables to boost my immunity. Could you shed light on this? ADW, Nairobi
The immune system is made up of tissues, cells, and processes within the body that protect it from disease by providing a barrier or by fighting off what is unwanted. It is the security system in your body.
Some of it is innate (you are born with it) and some of it is acquired as you encounter different threats. Since the immune system interacts with other systems in the body, general good health contributes to a healthy immune system and vice versa. This means that to assist in optimal function of the immune system, maintain good general health by eating regular well balanced meals, exercising regularly, getting adequate vitamin D, managing stress, adequate sleep and rest, maintaining a healthy weight, practising infection prevention (e.g. hand and food hygiene, clean drinking water, adequate food preparation), avoiding smoking and excessive alcohol intake, and managing any illnesses you may have.
Lack or deficiency of micronutrients (nutrients that are required in small quantities in the body) like zinc, selenium, iron, copper, folic acid, Vitamin A, C, B6, and E may have an effect on the immune system, which is why a diet rich in fruit and vegetables is recommended to provide them.
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