We get it. When you’ve got vaginal irritation and uncomfortable discharge, you don’t want to waste a minute in finding treatment. But is a yeast infection causing that itching, burning and odd type of discharge—or something else?
We’ve got everything you need to know about the causes, symptoms and vaginal yeast infection treatment options. Plus, info on how Dr. B can help you get an online yeast infection prescription treatment through our virtual health services.
A yeast infection is a common fungal infection that often affects the vagina. Also called candidiasis or candidal vaginitis, it can trigger symptoms like vaginal itching, irritation and a thick, white discharge.
According to CDC estimates, 75% of people with vaginas will experience at least one yeast infection throughout their lifetime. Up to 45% will experience two or more. They’re most common after puberty and before menopause—but anyone can experience a yeast infection.
Yeast infections can occur in other parts of the body. These include:
Yeast infections are caused by excessive growth of Candida—a common type of fungi found on the body. Research suggests that about 200 species of Candida exist. The only ones thought to cause infections are C. albicans, C. parapsilosis, C. glabrata, C. krusei. and C. tropicalis.
Most people have small amounts of Candida growing on their skin and inside parts of their body. These are mainly present in areas like the mouth, intestines or vagina. Candida doesn’t usually cause any symptoms. But when something disrupts the healthy balance of bacteria and yeast, it overgrows and causes a yeast infection.
Other Candida-related fungal infections include athlete's foot, jock itch, nail fungus and diaper rash. Invasive candidiasis is a more serious fungal infection that can become life-threatening if not managed properly.
Anyone can get a yeast infection, but some health-related risk factors can increase your risk. These include:
Certain lifestyle factors can also increase the risk of a yeast infection. These include:
Yeast infections aren’t generally contagious. Candida can transfer to another person by touch. But that person is unlikely to develop a yeast infection unless they’re already susceptible to them. While not considered a sexually transmitted infection (STI), a yeast infection can spread through sexual activity.
Yeast infection symptoms can vary from person to person. But the most common symptoms include:
Less common but serious symptoms include a vaginal rash, sores or blisters. If you experience these symptoms, seek medical attention. And if any symptoms don’t resolve in a few days, see a medical provider.
Vaginal yeast infections are common. But they share prevalent symptoms with other infections. So it can be frustratingly difficult to tell whether you’re experiencing a yeast infection—or something else.
Some conditions commonly confused with yeast infections include:
If you’re having trouble determining which infection you have, talk with a licensed medical provider about your symptoms. If appropriate, they can help you find the best medication for a yeast infection to help clear those symptoms fast!
A mild yeast infection may clear up on its own. But most require medical treatment. Without proper treatment, future yeast infections are more likely.
A yeast infection’s severity often depends on how quickly you seek treatment and how much the Candida yeast has multiplied. If you’re experiencing even mild vaginal itching, redness, vaginal discharge or pain during sex, seek advice from a medical provider. They can help you find the best suppository or pill for yeast infection.
Here are some ways your provider may diagnose a vaginal yeast infection:
Some at-home tests can diagnose a yeast infection. These tests don’t identify the type of fungus present. But they can determine typical versus abnormal pH levels in the vagina.
If you’re suffering from frequent yeast infections (more than four per year), it’s a good idea to talk with your medical provider about a possible underlying cause. They may recommend a blood sugar test for diabetes, a test for HIV or examine possible hormonal changes like pregnancy or birth control.
Most yeast infections are easily treated with prescription medication. Effective yeast infection treatments are often applied as a topical cream or vaginal suppository or taken as an oral pill. Most yeast infections begin to clear after just a few days with medication. Complicated cases can take longer to treat.
Yeast infection treatments are classified as azole antifungal drugs. All essentially serve the same purpose—they restrict the growth of the Candida fungus to restore bacterial balance in the vagina.
Some common yeast infection medicines include:
Some yeast infection medications are available over-the-counter. But it’s recommended to seek a medical professional's opinion before selecting a treatment—especially for your first infection. Your medical provider may recommend varying treatments depending on the severity of your symptoms, the other medications you’re taking or your pre-existing medical conditions. Be sure to carefully follow prescribing instructions.
A variety of home remedies may help relieve yeast infection symptoms. But the efficacy of these methods is primarily anecdotal, and they are not monitored for safety and efficacy by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). So the best way to treat your yeast infection is with an approved medication prescribed under the advice of a medical provider.
If you do try a home remedy, only do so with medical supervision.
Common yeast infection home remedies include:
If you’re struggling with symptoms of a yeast infection, don’t wait to seek out treatment. Get started with an assessment for yeast infection treatment online. We’ll connect you with a licensed medical provider who will review your health assessment and, if appropriate, recommend a prescription yeast infection treatment. Get back to a symptom-free life—all from the comfort of home!
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2013). Vulvovaginal Candidiasis (VVC).
Spampinato, C., et al. (2013). Candida infections, causes, targets, and resistance mechanisms: traditional and alternative antifungal agents. BioMed Research International.