Candida parapsilosis, or C. parapsilosis, is a yeast that’s common on the skin and often harmless. It also lives in soil and on the skin of other animals.

A healthy immune system can prevent C. parapsilosis infection as well as having intact skin, or skin that doesn’t have open nicks, scrapes, or cuts.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are 20 species of Candida that can cause fungal infections in people. C. parapsilosis is one of them. Here’s what you should know.

C. parapsilosis is one type of Candida yeast that can cause infections in people. Other yeasts include:

C. parapsilosis and these yeasts can all be part of fungal infections involving:

C. parapsilosis and invasive candidiasis

C. parapsilosis may be the leading cause of invasive candidiasis, particularly in newborn babies and people who are in intensive care units.

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Invasive candidiasis can affect your blood, heart, brain, or other parts of your body. For example, one cause of meningitis is the spread of Candida through the bloodstream and into the brain.

A fungal infection in the bloodstream is called candidemia. The CDC reports candidemia is the most common type of invasive candidiasis and one of the most common causes of bloodstream infections in people who are in the hospital.

C. parapsilosis primarily colonizes the skin, where it typically doesn’t cause disease. Because it’s often present on the skin, the hands of healthcare workers can transmit C. parapsilosis.

A study of almost 3,000 cultures taken from the hands of hospital workers found that 19 percent of them were positive for C. parapsilosis.

C. parapsilosis can also be transmitted through contaminated medical devices, like catheters, and also from mother to child during birth.

According to research, C. parapsilosis has mostly been associated with medical devices and procedures since its identification in the early 1900s.

Invasive or systemic candidiasis symptoms depend on the organ or areas of the body affected.

Symptoms of fungal endocarditis, for example, can include fever, cough, and retaining fluid in the arms and legs.

It’s important to pay attention for those who are most at risk.

Like C. glabrata infections, C. parapsilosis infections have been on the rise over recent years.

A big risk for developing a C. parapsilosis infection is having any sort of implanted medical device, such as a catheter or prosthetic device. An example of an implanted prosthetic device is an artificial heart valve. The yeast grows well on these types of surfaces.

People who have a weakened immune system and people who recently had surgery, particularly in the gastrointestinal tract, may be at risk for C. parapsilosis infection.

Newborns with a low birth weight are also prone to C. parapsilosis infection due to their:

  • delicate skin
  • susceptibility to infection
  • increased likelihood of having a device inserted, such as a catheter

Neutropenia — a key risk factor

An important risk factor for developing more invasive candidiasis is neutropenia. This is when there are abnormally low levels of infection-fighting cells called neutrophils in the blood. It can make you more prone to infections.

People who are commonly affected by neutropenia include people undergoing chemotherapy or radiation therapy for cancer and people with leukemia or other bone marrow diseases.

Individuals who have neutropenia and an invasive Candida infection have special treatment recommendations.

Candida parapsilosis vaginal infections

C. parapsilosis vaginal yeast infections are treated with a course of antifungal medication that may be taken in various forms, including oral pills, suppository capsules, or topical treatments. Examples include:

  • fluconazole
  • butoconazole
  • miconazole
  • boric acid

Candida parapsilosis blood infection

Candidemia, a blood infection with Candida species, can be diagnosed when the yeast is isolated from a blood sample.

Treatment may depend on the species of Candida causing the infection. Catheters would also be removed. Examples of medications include:

  • intravenous (IV) doses of fluconazole
  • caspofungin
  • micafungin
  • amphotericin B

Invasive candidiasis from Candida parapsilosis

Treatment may include:

  • IV fluconazole or amphotericin B
  • removal of any infected medical device
  • possible surgical removal of fungus from the tissue (depending on the structures or organs involved)

Candida is a type of yeast that can cause infections in humans. C. albicans is the species of Candida most likely to cause an infection. However, infections caused by species C. glabrata and C. parapsilosis are now on the rise.

Normally, C. parapsilosis naturally lives on your skin without causing harm. Some circumstances, such as taking a long course of antibiotics or having a weakened immune system, can increase your risk for developing an infection.

C. parapsilosis infections are treated with antifungal drugs that are given topically, orally, or through an IV.