How Long Can a Yeast Infection Last?


Close-up of candida, the fungus that can cause a vaginal yeast infection.
Summary
  • Yeast infections are caused by an imbalance of yeast microbes in the vagina, penis, or groin area.
  • Symptoms of a yeast infection differ between men and women, but some shared symptoms include redness or swelling, and urination issues.
  • The duration of a yeast infection will depend on the severity of the infection and the treatment.
  • There are three levels of severity for a yeast infection: mild, moderate, and severe.
  • Typically, there are four treatment courses for yeast infections, including over-the-counter (OTC) antifungal creams and prescription antifungal creams.

Yeast infections can be uncomfortable and embarrassing to handle, and people who get them often wonder how long they will last.

This article will cover yeast infections, how they develop, what remedies you can use, and how long yeast infections stay around.

What Causes a Yeast Infection?

Yeast infections are caused by an imbalance of certain yeast microbes in a person’s vagina, penis, or groin area.

The particular fungus that causes these infections is called Candida, and both men and women can get yeast infections.

However, you shouldn't be alarmed. It is entirely normal to have yeast and other types of bacteria growing on your skin.

Key Point: What is Candida?

Candida is yeast (fungus) naturally found in various parts of the human body. There are multiple strains of Candida that can cause a yeast infection.

The vital thing to remember is that yeast infections are caused by an imbalance of these microbes.

What Are the Symptoms of a Yeast Infection?

People will show different symptoms when they develop penile or vaginal yeast infections. Here are some of the more common ones you should look out for:

For women:

  • Vaginal or vulvar itching
  • Vaginal or vulvar soreness and irritation
  • Burning during urination
  • Redness or swelling
  • A burning sensation during sex
  • A thick, white discharge
  • Watery vaginal discharge

For men:

  • Trouble urinating
  • Itching or burning on the tip of the penis
  • Redness around the groin
  • Discharge that looks like cottage cheese
  • Swelling around the tip of the penis and foreskin
  • Sores or white patches of skin
  • Trouble pulling back the foreskin
  • A difficult time getting or maintaining an erection

How Long Will a Yeast Infection Last?

Wondering how long a yeast infection will last? The answer depends on two factors:

  • The severity of the infection
  • The yeast infection treatment you have chosen

Severity

The length of time it takes for a yeast infection to disappear will be directly linked to how severe it is. A person can get three grades or levels of yeast infections:

Mild Yeast Infections. A mild yeast infection means few or light symptoms. In some cases, the infection may go away on its own or clear up after three days of treatment. However, it’s always best to speak to a doctor and use home remedies or medication to help it disappear faster.

Moderate Yeast Infections. A moderate yeast infection means that you are experiencing most or all of the symptoms covered above. A moderate infection will not disappear on its own, and you should see a doctor for treatment. If you are treating your infection with prescription medication, you can expect it to clear up between three and seven days.

Severe Yeast Infections. Severe infections will have all of the symptoms covered above and will probably get worse as the infection develops. If you have a severe yeast infection, you should see a doctor as soon as you can to get prescription medication and treatment started. With treatment, you can expect the infection to start clearing up after seven days.

The best course of action to take if you think you have a yeast infection is to speak with a doctor and start treatment.

Treatment

If your doctor diagnoses you with a yeast infection, they'll usually recommend one of four treatment courses to cure your infection. These include:

  • Over-the-counter (OTC) antifungal cream
  • Prescription antifungal cream
  • Steroid creams
  • Oral medication

The treatment your doctor suggests will depend on the severity of the infection, their medical opinion, and what course of treatment you would like to follow.

For example, if you’d prefer not to apply creams to sensitive areas, your doctor will likely prescribe you an oral medication that you can take to clear the infection.

Or, if you have a mild infection, your doctor might advise you to apply a topical antifungal cream instead of taking an oral medication.

Based on the severity of the condition and the treatment you receive, you can expect a yeast infection to clear up after seven days. Keep in mind that if you have a severe yeast infection, it might take a bit longer for your medication to work.

If your medication isn’t working after seven days, it’s a good idea to go back to your doctor and start a stronger or different treatment course.

If you’re interested in speaking with a medical professional over your smartphone or computer, consider signing up for LifeMD. Doctors are ready to help with a diagnosis and treatment plan.

What Medication Can My Doctor Prescribe to Treat a Yeast Infection?

Yeast infections are usually easily treatable, and there are many antifungal medications available over-the-counter and by prescription.

Key Point: What Kinds of Medicine Will a Doctor Give Me for a Yeast Infection?

In most cases, your doctor will prescribe:

  • Creams: These are water-based substances applied to the skin.

  • Ointments: These are oil-based substances that need to be applied to an affected area.

  • Suppositories: These are cone-shaped medications delivered through bodily orifices for localized relief.

  • Tablets: These are the most common form of medication and are pills that are delivered via the mouth.

What Home Remedies Are Used to Treat Yeast Infections?

Here are a couple of at-home remedies you can try to reduce the symptoms of a yeast infection:

Washing your hands: By washing your hands, you can slow down the spread of the infection and prevent a bacterial infection or further fungal infection.

The hands can carry a lot of bacteria, fungi, and other pathogens, so it’s best to keep them as clean as possible to reduce the risk of further contamination.

Washing the affected areas: If you're experiencing a yeast infection in your groin area, maintaining good hygiene can slow down the spread and severity of your infection.

However, if you have a severe infection, avoid this as soaps might further irritate your skin.

Taking probiotics: Eating Greek yogurt or drinking a probiotic can help your body balance out natural microbes. This can help reduce the symptoms of a yeast infection by increasing the number of bacteria that actively combat Candida growth.

Other treatments that might help:

While the efficacy of some at-home remedies hasn’t been adequately researched and tested, there are a few treatments that you can try:

  • Coconut oil
  • Vitamin E
  • Garlic
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Tea tree oil

While these may work in reducing the symptoms of a yeast infection, it's always advisable to speak to your doctor before starting any new treatment. Prescription oral medication or antifungal creams will significantly shorten the span of your infection.

Key Point: Using a Range of Treatments Can Help Cure Your Yeast Infection

If you’d like to get rid of your infection quickly, a good approach would be to use these home remedies in conjunction with the medicine you’ve been prescribed.

If you’d like to learn more about which at-home treatments you can use to get rid of a yeast infection, you can book a video appointment with a board-certified doctor.

Who is Susceptible to Getting Yeast Infections?

Anyone can develop a yeast infection. According to a study done by Wayne State University and Manchester University, almost nine million women in the U.S. are affected by Candida Vaginitis.

However, some factors can increase the likelihood of a yeast infection. Use this checklist to see if you have a higher risk:

  • Have you been taking antibiotics for a long time?
  • Do you have diabetes?
  • Are you overweight?
  • Do you have trouble cleaning yourself?
  • Are you sensitive to soaps, perfumes, and chemicals?
  • Have you used or are you using steroids?
  • Do you have a weak immune system because of a syndrome, illness, or condition?

If you've answered yes to any of these questions, you might be at risk of developing a yeast infection.

Where Can I Learn More about Health Conditions and Treatments?

If you’re currently dealing with the symptoms of a vaginal yeast infection, getting medical treatment is the fastest way to clear it up.

At LifeMD, our goal is to make healthcare simple, convenient, and cost-effective. All appointments are 100% virtual — meet with a board-certified doctor or nurse practitioner over your smartphone or computer.

To make an appointment, start here.

Dr. Banita Sehgal

Dr. Sehgal received her medical degree from Western University in Los Angeles and trained as Chief Resident at White Memorial Medical Center, also in Los Angeles. She’s been practicing medicine for 20+ years and has a specific interest in women’s health.

Talk To A Doctor

LifeMD makes it easy to stay on top of your health because talking to a doctor, filling your prescriptions, getting your labs done—and more—are all easy and cost-effective. Come discover a healthcare solution built around you and your life.

Connect with a doctor now!

This article is intended for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice. Consult a healthcare professional or call a doctor in the case of a medical emergency.

Feel better with LifeMD.

Your doctor is online and ready to see you.

Join LifeMD today and experience amazing healthcare, discounted labs and prescription medications... plus around-the-clock access to medical guidance.