Yeast Infection

Symptoms of a yeast infection

What are common vaginal yeast infection symptoms? How can you determine the cause of vaginal itching or vaginal discharge? Our experts share all that—and more.
A white woman is lying on her back in bed with a pillow over her head, signifying discomfort

Key Points:

  1. An estimated 75% of people with vaginas get at least one yeast infection in their lifetime.
  2. The most common yeast infection symptoms include itching, redness or soreness around the vagina or a thick, white vaginal discharge.
  3. Most yeast infections require a prescription yeast infection treatment. Without treatment, infections may become more severe. They’re also more likely to happen again.

Vaginal yeast infections can trigger overwhelmingly uncomfortable, distracting symptoms. There’s the itchy vagina, smelly urine and red vaginal irritation. But once you’re familiar with the symptoms, you can seek the proper vaginal yeast infection treatment and feel better fast.

Here are the symptoms to watch for. Plus, how Dr. B can help you treat a yeast infection online through a virtual health assessment.

What is a vaginal yeast infection?

Vaginal yeast infections are fungal infections of the vaginal area. (They’re also called vulvovaginal candidiasis.) But yeast infections can occur on and around the penis, too.

What causes a yeast infection?

Yeast infections are caused by the fungus Candida. Candida is a species of yeast regularly found in small amounts on the skin or in the mouth, intestines, throat or vagina. When Candida grows too much and upsets the vagina’s bacterial balance, a vaginal yeast infection happens.

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. Around 75% of people with vaginas will get at least one yeast infection in their lifetime. So knowing what the symptoms look like can help you get the right treatment when you need it.

What are the main symptoms of a yeast infection?

In most cases, the symptoms of a yeast infection are relatively 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 symptoms of yeast infection include:

  • Vaginal itching—including itchy vaginal lips or an itchy vulva
  • Pain in the vaginal
  • Vaginal soreness
  • Vaginal redness
  • Bumps or swelling around the vulva
  • A thick white discharge (with no odor)
  • Vaginal rash
  • Burning while peeing or burning pain during sex

What does a vaginal yeast infection look like?

Not everyone experiences the same yeast infection symptoms. Some people experience no symptoms at all. But you may notice:

  • A thick, white vaginal discharge (leukorrhea)
  • Redness or swelling in the vaginal area
  • Tiny cracks or cuts in the skin of the vulva

Less common symptoms include sores or blisters often accompanied by rash or redness. In this case, consult your medical provider right away. These can be symptoms of common sexually transmitted infections (STIs) like herpes.

Yeast infections can affect areas other than the vagina. The penis may develop redness, itching, areas of shiny skin, moist skin or a thick, white substance in skin folds. Yeast infections in the mouth (called thrush) can create raised, white lesions on the tongue or inner cheeks. Or a red and itchy rash may appear in any part of the skin—usually in skin folds.

Is it a yeast infection or something else?

Common yeast infection symptoms like itching, irritation and a thick vaginal discharge can look similar to symptoms of other vaginal conditions, making diagnosis difficult. These other conditions include:

  • Bacterial vaginosis (BV). BV is a bacterial imbalance in the vagina. It can cause symptoms including itching, irritation or pain in the vaginal area.
  • Urinary tract infection (UTI). Another bacterial infection, UTIs can trigger painful urination, smelly urine, a persistent urge to pee and lower abdominal pain (dysuria).
  • Sexually transmitted infections. Some STIs can trigger itching, irritation or pain in the genital areas. They often also include a swollen vulva or other vaginal swelling. Yeast infections are not an STI. But they can be passed through sex.

These conditions require specific treatments. If you’re unsure of your condition, talk to a medical provider. They can help determine what’s going on and prescribe the proper treatment.

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Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2013). Vulvovaginal Candidiasis (VVC).

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