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Vulvovaginal candidiasis in Adult
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Vulvovaginal candidiasis in Adult

Contributors: Mitchell Linder MD, David Foster MD, Mary Gail Mercurio MD, Lynne Margesson MD, Susan Burgin MD
Other Resources UpToDate PubMed


Vulvovaginal candidiasis usually is caused by Candida albicans but occasionally is caused by other Candida sp. or yeasts. Seventy-five percent of women will have one yeast infection in their lifetime, and 5% have recurrent infections.

Patients will often present with complaints of itching, burning, and a clumping discharge. Alternatively, there may be little vaginal discharge but instead erythema with or without scale on the vulva. While most infections are uncomplicated and limited, some women experience recurrent vulvovaginal candidiasis (4 or more episodes in 1 given year) without an obvious explanation.

Immunocompromised patients are at increased risk for candidiasis, including those with diabetes (see diabetic vulvitis), HIV, autoimmune conditions, and obesity, as well as individuals being treated with chemotherapy. Other more common potential inciting events include pregnancy, use of systemic antibiotics or steroids, frequent intercourse, use of immunosuppressive medication, sex with a new partner, certain vaginal lubricants or washes, oral contraceptive pills, and estrogen therapy.

Vulvovaginal candidiasis is not a sexually transmitted disease.


B37.3 – Candidiasis of vulva and vagina

72934000 – Vaginal candidiasis

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Diagnostic Pearls

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Differential Diagnosis & Pitfalls

  • Candidiasis often complicates all irritated vulvar eruptions (Lichen sclerosus, Lichen simplex chronicus, etc). Candidiasis can cause cyclic vulvovaginitis, which occurs at the same time each month around the menses with minimal discharge. Pre-menarchal girls are a common group to have lichen sclerosus.
  • Allergic contact dermatitis
  • Irritant contact dermatitis
  • Folliculitis
  • Molluscum contagiosum
  • Cellulitis
  • Psoriasis
  • Vulvar cancer
  • Extramammary Paget disease
  • Vaginal atrophy
  • Desquamative inflammatory vaginitis

Best Tests

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Management Pearls

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Drug Reaction Data

Below is a list of drugs with literature evidence indicating an adverse association with this diagnosis. The list is continually updated through ongoing research and new medication approvals. Click on Citations to sort by number of citations or click on Medication to sort the medications alphabetically.

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Last Reviewed:12/13/2018
Last Updated:06/29/2021
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Vulvovaginal candidiasis in Adult
A medical illustration showing key findings of Vulvovaginal candidiasis : Erythema, Vaginal discharge, Vaginal-labial itching, Dyspareunia, Dysuria
Lab image of Vulvovaginal candidiasis - imageId=311552. Click to open in gallery.  caption: 'A high-power view of yeasts and pseudohyphae.'
A high-power view of yeasts and pseudohyphae.
Copyright © 2024 VisualDx®. All rights reserved.