Candidiasis of the Skin and Nails


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A) a dark, lumpy rash. B) a broken, yellow nail. C) large, white, fuzzy colonies on a plate.
(a) This red, itchy rash is the result of cutaneous candidiasis, an opportunistic infection of the skin caused by the yeast Candida albicans. (b) Fungal infections of the nail (tinea unguium) can be caused by dermatophytes or Candida spp. The nail becomes yellow, brittle, and prone to breaking. This condition is relatively common among adults. (c) C. albicans growing on Sabouraud dextrose agar. (credit a: modification of work by U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs; credit c: modification of work by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

OpenStax Microbiology

Candida albicans and other yeasts in the genus Candida can cause skin infections referred to as cutaneous candidiasis. Candida spp. are sometimes responsible for intertrigo, a general term for a rash that occurs in a skin fold, or other localized rashes on the skin. Candida can also infect the nails, causing them to become yellow and harden.

Candidiasis of the skin and nails is diagnosed through clinical observation and through culture, Gram stain, and KOH wet mounts. Susceptibility testing for anti-fungal agents can also be done. Cutaneous candidiasis can be treated with topical or systemic azole antifungal medications. Because candidiasis can become invasive, patients suffering from HIV/AIDS, cancer, or other conditions that compromise the immune system may benefit from preventive treatment. Azoles, such as clotrimazole, econazole,  fluconazole,  ketoconazole, and miconazole; nystatin; terbinafine; and naftifine may be used for treatment. Long-term treatment with medications such as itraconazole or ketoconazole may be used for chronic infections. Repeat infections often occur, but this risk can be reduced by carefully following treatment recommendations, avoiding excessive moisture, maintaining good health, practicing good hygiene, and having appropriate clothing (including footwear).

Candida also causes infections in other parts of the body besides the skin. These include vaginal yeast infections and oral thrush.


Parker, N., Schneegurt, M., Thi Tu, A.-H., Forster, B. M., & Lister, P. (n.d.). Microbiology. Houston, Texas: OpenStax. Access for free at: