Yeast Infection vs Herpes: How Do Yeast Infection and Herpes Compare

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Symptoms like itching of the vagina area or painful urination are common both in the infection and herpes. Therefore, people tend to wrongly self-diagnose these conditions. A wrong diagnosis may lead to purchasing treatment for the incorrect condition, which delays the actual treatment and results in unwanted side effects. This article highlights the symptoms, causes, similarities, differences, and treatment of yeast infection and herpes.

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What is a Yeast Infection?

Also referred to as vaginal candidiasis, it is a fungal infection that forms from hormonal changes within the body. It causes pain and discomfort to the affected areas and is characterized by soreness, itchiness, and sensitivity.

Women are prone to vaginal candidiasis during pregnancy and when taking birth control pills, as these factors may influence their body’s hormonal composition. Vaginal candidiasis may affect the vaginal opening, the vagina, and surrounding areas.

Yeast (also called candida) is naturally produced and may be beneficial for the body because of the support it offers to digestion and other bodily functions. However, once the hormonal balance is disrupted, an infection may occur. Candidiasis often does not need serious medical treatment unless complications arise. However, it depends on the severity of the case.

Common symptoms of Vaginal Yeast Infections

Yeast Infection Symptoms and Treatment

It often has distinguished symptoms, making it easy to diagnose and identify. You may have the condition if you are experiencing the following symptoms:

  • Itchiness in the affected areas
  • Pain or soreness
  • Development of a rash
  • Irritated skin in the affected areas
  • Pain when urinating
  • Pain during intercourse
  • Unusual discharge (thick consistency, white, with no odor)
  • Watery discharge

Treatment for the condition often consists of over-the-counter or prescription medicine. However, minor cases can also go away on their own over time. OTC treatments are often topical and come in a cream-based consistency to be spread over the affected areas. Your attending sexual health worker can only prescribe oral medicine.

Many individuals also use home remedies like hydrogen peroxide and boric acid. However, seeking medical advice before trying certain treatments is still recommended.

top 7 treatments for yeast infection

What is Genital Herpes?

Herpes is a sexually transmitted disease caused by the Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV). It is often found in sensitive areas like the groin, anal area, and buttocks. However, it is one of the sexually transmitted diseases you can contract near your mouth after performing oral sex.

Herpes is contagious and contracted by being involved in direct contact with another individual who has HSV. For example, you may get Herpes by coming in contact with the following substances from a person who has HSV:

  • Saliva from oral sex
  • Genital substances from intercourse
  • The skin near the mouth and genitals
  • Herpes sore

You can only contract HSV directly by interacting with these substances or areas. For example, you cannot get herpes from touching inanimate objects such as towels, toilet seats, sheets, or toiletries like soap.

6 symptoms of genitalia herpes

What are the Symptoms of Herpes?

Most people who have herpes will most likely have no idea that they contracted it. This is because many cases of herpes are mild and barely show noticeable symptoms. Instead, they are characterized by blisters, which many individuals may mistake for pimples. In addition, although it is an infection, symptoms may not appear days, months, or even years after contracting it.

Herpes symptoms won’t be visible until an ‘outbreak’ has occurred. However, once the outbreak finally happens, the signs begin to appear. Common symptoms of herpes include gaining blisters and sores all over the affected areas of their skin.

These blisters will eventually pop open and dry up until they scab, remaining sore until they heal completely within a few weeks. Herpes may also include symptoms similar to the flu, such as body aches and swollen lymph nodes.

How is Herpes Diagnosed?

According to the CDC Fact Sheet, herpes is best diagnosed through nucleic acid amplification tests. This is the most accurate and highly sensitive test among all other options. However, some alternatives are more accessible. For example, patients could get a viral culture test to assess a tissue sample of their blisters or sores in a lab to determine whether it is herpes.

A polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test is also a good option. It involves getting a sample of your blood, spinal fluid, or tissue of a sore. Your healthcare provider will thoroughly inspect the substance to identify whether it is HSV. The last option is a blood test. It is a straightforward procedure that analyzes blood samples to determine whether there is a previous history of herpes.

How is Herpes Treated?

There is no actual cure for herpes. However, your doctor may prescribe you antiviral treatment instead. There are currently two ways to treat herpes infection. The first is intermittent treatment, which is usually the best option to take when experiencing another epidemic or flare-up. These treatments usually come in the form of pills that are taken between two to five days or until the herpes flare-up has completely subsided or healed.

The second option is the suppressive treatment. This type of treatment is mostly considered when your herpes flare-ups are becoming more and more frequent.

To help the individual live comfortably despite the condition, doctors will advise them to take antiviral medicine daily. This is the best option if a patient does not have any problems taking maintenance medicine and is willing to remain consistent.

Yeast Infection vs. Herpes

There are some similarities between yeast infection and herpes but take note that those are very different things. There are certain situations wherein you may assume that your case may be HSV, but rest assured that it is mostly just Candidiasis. On the other hand, patients who display symptoms of herpes may think they have vaginal candidiasis because of any soreness. Still, they are not infected.

Although they are similar, there are more differences between the two conditions than the things that they have in common.

similarities between yeast infection and herpes

Similarities Between Candidiasis and Herpes

The only similarities between herpes and candidiasis are in their symptoms. This is why many patients often confuse the two with one another. People suffering from Candidiasis and herpes display soreness and pain in the affected areas. In this instance, it is usually the vagina, vaginal opening, and nearby areas. They may also cause pain while urinating. Other than these two symptoms, Candidiasis and HSV are very different.

Differences Between Yeast Infection and Herpes

The key difference between candidiasis and herpes are as follows:

Origins or cause — Candidiasis is caused by a hormonal imbalance in the woman’s body, usually caused by pregnancy or birth control medication. The overgrowth of yeast within the vaginal area causes candidiasis to appear and spread. On the other hand, genital herpes is only transmitted through sexual activity or direct contact with other infected individuals. Unlike herpes, candidiasis is often contagious.

Symptoms — Candidiasis is characterized mostly by the itching, soreness, and cream cheese substance found in the vaginal area. Conversely, herpes does not have this symptom and is distinguished by painful blisters that eventually break open. Although they both cause soreness within the affected areas, their main symptoms are very different. In addition, patients with Candidiasis often do not have flu-like symptoms unless complications arise, which is quite common for herpes patients.

key differences between yeast infection and herpes

When to Consult a Doctor

When the situation for both infections seems unusual, it’s time to consider reaching out to a medical professional.

Candidiasis should only last up to two weeks with treatment. However, if it does not disappear within that time frame, you should seek help from your doctor. Recurring yeast infections (more than four within a year) are also unusual and may cause an underlying disease or complication.

Regarding genital herpes, you should schedule a visit to your doctor soon as you identify the symptoms. Genital herpes does not have a cure, so symptoms will persist until the patient is given the appropriate suppressive or intermittent treatment.

Unfortunately, this medication is only available through prescription. Therefore, patients should see their doctor as soon as possible to prevent it from spreading to other individuals.

Frequently Asked Questions

Yeast infections cannot be transmitted sexually, as it is a fungal contagion that forms because of the overgrowth of yeast in the body. STDs are only contracted through direct contact with a substance. Genital herpes is considered an STD because of how it is contracted.

The most effective way to tell the two apart is to consult a medical professional. However, if your symptoms are still mild, you can identify which one you have based on the symptoms. Genital herpes will usually cause painful, sore blisters that resemble pimples on the genital areas. Yeast infections are characterized by itching and white, odorless discharge.

The content on Doctor Alexa’s blog is reviewed by Advanced practice registered nurses or pharmacist and is intended for educational purposes only. This information should not be relied upon as professional medical counsel. Be sure to always consult with your physician about the dangers and benefits of any medication, treatment or procedure.

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