What Does the Discharge Look Like When You Have a Yeast Infection?

Reviewed on 5/12/2021

A yeast infection is a fungal infection caused by <i>Candida albicans</i> that can affect the vagina or penis, or cause a diaper rash. A common symptom of a vaginal yeast infection is abnormal vaginal discharge, which might be thick and look like cottage cheese (white and curd-like) or be thin and watery.
A yeast infection is a fungal infection caused by Candida albicans that can affect the vagina or penis, or cause a diaper rash. A common symptom of a vaginal yeast infection is abnormal vaginal discharge, which might be thick and look like cottage cheese (white and curd-like) or be thin and watery.

A yeast infection is a type of fungal infection caused by a common yeast called Candida albicans. Most people have some Candida living on their skin and inside their body, such as in the vagina, mouth, throat, and gut, and it usually does not present any problems. 

When Candida grows out of control it can cause infections. Yeast infections often refer to candidiasis in the vagina in women, but yeast infections can also occur in men on the penis, and on the skin and result in rashes such as intertrigo (a rash and irritation of the folds of the skin) and diaper rash in infants.

A common symptom of a vaginal yeast infection is abnormal vaginal discharge, which might be thick and look like cottage cheese (white and curd-like) or be thin and watery. It usually does not have an odor, but if it does, it may smell like bread or yeast. 

Other symptoms of a vaginal yeast infection include:

  • Vulvar itching or soreness (the most common symptom)
  • Pain, redness, or irritation of the vulva and vagina
  • Pain on urination
  • Pain during intercourse

What Causes a Vaginal Yeast Infection?

Vaginal yeast infections are caused by a fungus called Candida albicans. Most people have a small amount of Candida on or in the body, but when it grows out of control it can develop into an infection. 

Risk factors for developing a vaginal yeast infection include: 

How Is a Vaginal Yeast Infection Diagnosed?

To diagnose a yeast infection, a doctor will perform a pelvic exam and take a swab of the vagina for bacterial culture.

QUESTION

The vagina includes the labia, clitoris, and uterus. See Answer

What Is the Treatment for a Vaginal Yeast Infection?

Treatment for vaginal yeast infection usually includes topical antifungal ointments and creams. Many of these are available over-the-counter (OTC), such as: 

Symptoms of vaginal yeast infections may be similar to many other types of vaginal infections so it is important to have a doctor confirm the diagnosis before using over-the-counter treatments. 

If the vaginal yeast infection is severe or does not clear up with over-the-counter preparations, prescription topical antifungal ointments and creams used to treat vaginal yeast infection include: 

  • Butoconazole (Gynazole)
  • Terconazole (Terazol)

Other treatments include oral fluconazole (Diflucan) and hydrocortisone cream for itching.

What Are Complications of a Vaginal Yeast Infection?

Complications of yeast infection include: 

  • Candidemia or invasive candidiasis (yeast infection enters the bloodstream)

 

How Do You Prevent a Vaginal Yeast Infection?

Vaginal yeast infections may be prevented with proper hygiene and:

  • Washing and drying completely after sweating
  • Avoiding perfumed soaps or shower gels on the genitals, which may cause irritation
  • Wearing loose-fitting cotton underwear to prevent moisture buildup in the genital area 
  • Avoiding the use of a douche 

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Reviewed on 5/12/2021
References
https://www.cdc.gov/fungal/diseases/candidiasis/index.html

https://www.cdc.gov/std/tg2015/candidiasis.htm