what does a yeast infection look like

What does a yeast infection look like? The 4 classic signs to look for

What does a yeast infection look like?

Yeast infection looks like cottage cheese discharge which has a thick chunky curd like appearance. Yeast infection is usually odorless, although some people describe the yeast infection smell as similar to bread yeast. The discharge color is usually milky white or light yellow.

To learn what a yeast infection looks like in men: yeast infection in men.

In this guide
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Common yeast infection symptoms to look for

It is estimated that 3 out of 4 women experience at least one episode of vaginal yeast infection during their childbearing years; about half will have at least one recurrence (source). A big a part of the diagnosis of vaginal yeast infection is based on physical symptoms you can look and feel.

To determine if you have a vaginal yeast infection, look for the following common yeast infection symptoms:

Physical signs to look for

Thick, chunky, curd like discharge, looks like cottage cheese.
Milky white discharge or very light yellow discharge.
No smell or odor or mild bread yeast like smell.

What does a yeast infection feel like

Intense itchiness of the vulva (vulvar pruritus).
 Irritation, swelling and burning around the vulva.
Soreness.
Pain during sexual intercourse (dyspareunia).
Pain or burning during urination (dysuria).

It doesn’t look like yeast infection when…

Vaginal bacterial infection symptoms

Certain vaginal bacterial infection symptoms are very different from the ones caused by a yeast infection. If you see any of these symptoms, you may have a bacterial infection.

Physical signs that do not look like yeast infection

 Strong musty or fishy vaginal odor, or strong unpleasant smell.
Discharge color: dark, yellow – green, gray.
 Thin watery discharge.
Homogenous discharge.

For a mapping of the vagina different areas, see the vaginal anatomy diagram.

How to treat a yeast infection?

Yeast infection treatment is directly related to the cause of the yeast infection:

Areas Infected Possible Cause Treatment
Only the vagina is affected. Specific issue in the vagina. Antifungal creams.
Prevention treatment.
Vagina and other areas are affected. Systemic candida overgrowth. Candida overgrowth treatment.
Antifungal creams (relief).
only the vagina is affected

If only the vagina is affected with no other symptoms present in other areas of the body, a yeast infection treatment using antifungal creams is usually enough for a complete yeast infection cure. For cases of chronic yeast infections, oral antifungals are usually used (source 1, source 2).

The options for antifungal creams is available either as antifungal drugs such as fluconazole (Diflucan), clotrimazole (Canesten) or by using natural antifungal creams. Certain natural antifungal creams such as ozonated olive oil are shown in published human studies to be very effective for vaginal yeast infections as well (source), and are prefered by many who do not want to use synthetic drugs.

Unlike many prescription or nonprescription over the counter antifungal drugs that can cause irritation and burning when used topically on the already irritated vagina, Ozonated olive oil has a unique ability to reduce candida and yeast growth (source) on one hand, while helping to soothe skin irritation and accelerate wound healing at the same time (source).

Additional facts you should know
  • Relieving the intense itching is a very important part of the treatment. Constant itching often causes the desire or reflex to scratch (pruritus) which can make the infection and irritation become worse.
  • To avoid chronic yeast infections or other complication, it is important to confirm that no other yeast infection symptoms are present.
  • To see the complete list of yeast infection symptoms broken down by different areas in the body see:
    candida symptoms checker.
the vagina and other areas are affected

When the vagina and other areas are affected, a candida overgrowth treatment is usually needed in order to help the body balance the systemic candida yeast infection in the body. In these cases, the vaginal infection is only one symptom of a systemic problem of excess candida yeast overgrowth in the body.

Common candida overgrowth symptoms may include external signs causing infections of the skin, toenails, feet, mouth, tongue and genitals, as well as internal symptoms causing digestive issues, mood swings, brain fog, muscle and joint pain and breathing or sinus infections.

To see if your symptoms and medical history may be related to candida overgrowth infection in your body, see:
online candida overgrowth test.

Candida overgrowth treatment

A typical treatment for systemic candida overgrowth usually include:

A critical part of the candida overgrowth treatment, is to address the root cause of the yeast overgrowth in the body. The causes of candida overgrowth can be different from one person to another, and as such the needed treatment can be completely different.

To learn more about the common candida overgrowth causes, see yeast infection causes.

Yeast infection vs bv

Yeast Infection or Bacterial Vaginosis?

The yeast infection vs bv is a common topic although it is usually quite easy to tell. Some yeast infection and bacterial infection symptoms look and feel completely different. Here is a summary of the main differences between bacterial to vaginal yeast infection as suggested by research (source 1, source 2, source 3, source 4):

Infection Type Odor Discharge Color Unique Symptoms
Vaginal Yeast Infection.
Known as: Candidal vulvovaginitis.
Usually no odor
or
mild bread yeast like smell.
Looks like cottage cheese.
Thick.
Chunky, curd like.
Milky white discharge. Intense itching.
Swelling.
Itching.
Inflammation.
Burning.
Painful urination.
Pain during sex.
Bacterial vaginal infection.
Known as: Bacterial vaginosis, BV, Gardnerella vaginalis.
Fishy odor.
Strong smell.
Homogeneous.
Clear, or thin.
White or Gray. No Swelling.
No itching.
Usually no pain.

The smell or odor of a vaginal yeast infection is one of the main differences between bacterial to vaginal yeast infection. The cottage cheese discharge color and appearance may look completely different as well. With that said, when it comes to vaginal infections, it is always best to get tested by your doctor. This is very important since the needed treatment for each type of infection can be different.

Doctors usually test for yeast infection by a vaginal exam, risk factors based on your medical history and the symptoms and other signs you share.
The bv or yeast infection quiz information above can help you become more aware of the different signs and symptoms which can help your doctor to diagnose the vaginal issue correctly.

For a mapping of the vagina different areas click on the diagram to see a larger view.