Not Found

Find information on medical topics, symptoms, drugs, procedures, news and more, written for the health care professional.

Chronic Mucocutaneous Candidiasis

By James Fernandez, MD, PhD, Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine; Director, Allergy and Clinical Immunology; Cleveland Clinic, Staff, Department of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine at Case Western Reserve University; Louis Stokes VA Medical Center, Wade Park;

Click here for
Patient Education

Chronic mucocutaneous candidiasis is persistent or recurrent candidal infection due to inherited T-cell defects.

Chronic mucocutaneous candidiasis is a primary immunodeficiency disorder that involves T cell defects. Inheritance may be

  • Autosomal dominant: Involving a mutation in the signal transducer and activator of transcription 1 gene (STAT1)

  • Autosomal recessive: Involving a mutation in the autoimmune regulator gene (AIRE)

In the recessive form (autoimmune polyendocrinopathy–candidosis-ectodermal dystrophy), autoimmune manifestations typically develop; they include endocrine disorders (eg, hypoparathyroidism, adrenal insufficiency, hypogonadism, thyroid disorders, diabetes), alopecia areata, pernicious anemia, and hepatitis. Mutations may also occur in genes that encode various proteins involved in the innate immune response to fungi—notably, the following:

  • PTPN22 (protein tyrosine phosphatase, non-receptor type 22 [also called LYP, or lymphoid tyrosine phosphatase], which is involved in T-cell–receptor signalling)

  • Dectin-1 (an innate pattern recognition receptor essential for the control of fungal infections)

  • CARD9 (caspase recruitment domain-containing protein 9, which is an adaptor molecule important in the production of IL-17 and for protection against fungal invasion)

Patients have cutaneous anergy toCandida, absent proliferative responses to Candida antigen (but normal proliferative responses to mitogens), and intact antibody response to Candida and other antigens. Candidiasis recurs or persists, usually beginning during infancy but sometimes during early adulthood. Life span is not affected. Some patients also have deficient humoral immunity (sometimes called antibody deficiency), characterized by abnormal antibody responses to polysaccharide antigens despite normal immunoglobulin levels.

Symptoms and Signs

Thrush is common, as are infections of the scalp, skin, nails, and GI and vaginal mucosa. Severity varies. Nails may be thickened, cracked, and discolored, with edema and erythema of the surrounding periungual tissue, resembling clubbing. Skin lesions are crusted, pustular, erythematous, and hyperkeratotic. Scalp lesions may result in scarring alopecia.

Infants often present with refractory thrush, candidal diaper rash, or both.


  • Clinical evaluation

Candidal lesions are confirmed by standard tests (eg, potassium hydroxide wet mount of scrapings).

Diagnosis of chronic mucocutaneous candidiasis is based on the presence of recurrent candidal skin or mucosal lesions when no other known causes of candidal infection (eg, diabetes, antibiotic use) are present.

Patients are screened for endocrine disorders based on clinical suspicion.

If an AIRE mutation is detected, screening can be offered to the patient's siblings and children.


  • Antifungal drugs

  • Treatment of endocrine and autoimmune manifestations

Usually, the infections can be controlled with a topical antifungal, If patients have a poor response to topical antifungals, long-term treatment with a systemic antifungal drug (eg, amphotericin B, fluconazole, ketoconazole) may be needed. Immune globulin should be considered if patients have antibody deficiency.

Autoimmune (including endocrine) manifestations are treated aggressively.

Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation was successful in 2 cases and could be considered as last-line treatment in severe cases.

Key Points

  • Inheritance of chronic mucocutaneous candidiasis is autosomal dominant or recessive.

  • Patients with the recessive form can have autoimmune (including endocrine) manifestations.

  • Diagnose the disorder by confirming mucocutaneous candidiasis and excluding other causes.

  • Treat candidiasis with antifungal drugs (using a systemic drug if needed), and treat autoimmune manifestations.

Drugs Mentioned In This Article

  • Drug Name
    Select Trade