Top symptoms of a yeast infection
- If you’re dealing with a yeast infection, you’re far from alone. An estimated 75% of women will get one in their lifetime.
- The most common symptoms are itching, redness or soreness around the vagina or a thick, white vaginal discharge.
- Most yeast infections require medical treatment. It’s a good idea to talk to a medical provider about your symptoms, even if they’re mild.
What is a yeast infection, exactly?
Yeast infections—also called vulvovaginal candidiasis when they affect the vaginal area—are fungal infections that cause symptoms like intense itchiness and irritation of the vagina and vulva.
Though it’s less common, yeast infections can also occur on male genitalia—symptoms include moist skin, redness, itchiness or areas of white skin on the penis.
What causes yeast infections?
The condition is caused by the fungus Candida, a species of yeast typically found in small amounts on the skin or in the mouth, intestines, throat or vagina. A vaginal yeast infection occurs when an overgrowth of Candida disrupts the balance of bacteria in the vagina, changing the pH levels.
This imbalance can be caused by:
- Hormonal changes during pregnancy or menopause
- Use of bacteria-killing antibiotics
- Immunosuppression from medications or an existing medical issue
- Increased levels of sugar in the urine from diabetes or a weakened immune system
You don’t necessarily need to have any of these factors—anyone can get a yeast infection at any time. And since they’re an issue for an estimated 75% of women, it’s worth knowing what the symptoms look like and how to get the proper treatment.
Read more about what causes a yeast infection.
The main symptoms of a yeast infection
It’s important to recognize the signs and symptoms of a yeast infection. In most cases, the symptoms are fairly mild. But if left untreated, they can become more severe or lead to health issues like skin infections, fatigue or invasive candidiasis, a much more serious fungal infection.
The most common symptom of yeast infection is vaginal itching, but others can include:
- Pain or soreness in the vagina
- Redness, bumps or swelling around the vulva
- A white, odorless vaginal discharge
- Vaginal rash
- A burning sensation, especially while urinating or during intercourse
What does a yeast infection look like?
If you’re experiencing a yeast infection, you may notice:
- Think, white vaginal discharge
- Redness or swelling in the vaginal area
- Very small cracks or cuts in the skin of the vulva
It’s important to note that not everyone experiences the same yeast infection symptoms, and some people experience no symptoms whatsoever.
Less commonly, vaginal yeast infections can also cause sores or blisters, often accompanied by rash or redness. In this case, it’s best to consult your medical provider right away, as these can be symptoms of common sexually transmitted infections (STIs) like herpes.
When the condition affects areas other than the vagina, yeast infections can have the following appearance:
- Male genitalia: Redness and itching, areas of shiny skin, moist skin on the penis or a thick, white substance in the skin’s folds
- Mouth or tongue (thrush): Raised, white lesions in the mouth, often on the tongue or inner cheeks
- Skin: A red, itchy rash, most likely in the folds of the skin
Is it a yeast infection or something else?
Common yeast infection symptoms—itching, irritation and a thick vaginal discharge—can be the same or similar to symptoms of other vaginal conditions, making diagnosis difficult.
Some other conditions symptoms may be confused with include:
- Bacterial vaginosis
- Sexually transmitted infections (STI)s such as gonorrhea, chlamydia and trichomoniasis
While a yeast infection isn’t considered an STI, they can still be passed on through sex.
These conditions have their own specific treatments and best practices. If you’re still not sure if you have a yeast infection or some other condition, it’s best to talk to a medical provider for the proper diagnosis.
Learn more about diagnosing a yeast infection.
Online treatment for yeast infections
If you’re experiencing the symptoms of a yeast infection, it’s best to seek assistance from a medical provider. In most cases, the condition is easy to treat with the right medication. Dr. B offers online consultations for yeast infections with clinical experts.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2013). Vulvovaginal Candidiasis (VVC).