Chronic Mucocutaneous Candidiasis Workup

Updated: Jun 09, 2021
  • Author: Hassan I Galadari, MD; Chief Editor: Dirk M Elston, MD  more...
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Laboratory Studies

When a patient presents with cutaneous manifestations of chronic mucocutaneous candidiasis (CMC), the studies described below should be performed.

Scrapings from the infected site are suspended in 10-20% KOH and microscopically examined. The presence of yeast cells and pseudohyphae confirms the diagnosis. Fungal stains, such as chlorazol black E stain or Parker blue-black ink, may be added to highlight the organism.

Candidal organisms grow well on several culture media. They grow as yeasts on Sabouraud agar with chloramphenicol and cycloheximide. C albicans also grows on dermatophyte test medium but does not demonstrate the red color change characteristic of dermatophytes.

Screening laboratory tests for a CMC-associated endocrine dysfunction include blood glucose or glycosylated hemoglobin testing, thyroid function tests, liver functions tests, serum electrolyte evaluation, corticotropin testing, and serum cortisol values. Consider a complete blood cell count, to screen for leukopenia, and an HIV test. Other endocrine screening tests that may be considered include follicle-stimulating hormone, luteinizing hormone, prolactin, testosterone, parathyroid-stimulating hormone, calcium, phosphate, magnesium, and short synacthen test. Perform baseline and yearly follow-up tests to screen for associated endocrinopathy.


Other Tests

Results from cellular immunity tests, such as the prick-test with Candida antigens, may be negative. In vitro lymphocyte proliferation is usually reduced for C albicans extracts.

Immunoglobulin G subclass deficiencies have been reported in some patients with CMC, who have a predisposition toward respiratory tract infections. Isolated immunoglobulin A and immunoglobulin M deficiencies have also been reported, in addition to a single case of complete agammaglobulinemia. [32]

In patients with other recurrent infections, immune studies should be considered; immunoglobulin levels should include B- and T-cell levels, as well as IgE to test for underlying autoimmune causes such as hyper-IgE syndrome.

If the clinical suspicion for APECED is high, genetic analysis of the AIRE gene can be confirmatory. [10, 15]

Anti–interferon-1 and anti-interleukin antibodies have been found to be highly specific for APECED and to precede the appearance of chronic mucocutaneous candidiasis (CMC), suggesting a possible diagnostic test. [33]



A skin biopsy is rarely needed to make a diagnosis of Candida infection, but it may be performed to rule out the possibility of superinfection of a primary dermatosis. A periodic acid-Schiff stain can confirm the presence of pseudohyphae. Nutritional deficiencies with cutaneous manifestations should also be considered, such as iron, vitamin B-6, vitamin B-12, vitamin C, and zinc. 


Histologic Findings

Routine hematoxylin and eosin–stained sections of superficial candidiasis lesions reveal subcorneal pustules. Granulomatous lesions of chronic mucocutaneous candidiasis (CMC) show hyperkeratosis and parakeratosis, with a dense mixed dermal infiltrate containing lymphocytes and plasma cells. Periodic acid-Schiff or silver stains of skin biopsy specimens can help identify organisms in the stratum corneum and dermis.