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Beard Ringworm (Tinea Barbae)

(Barber's Itch)

By Denise M. Aaron, MD, Assistant Professor of Surgery;Staff Physician, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center;Veterans Administration Medical Center, White River Junction

Beard ringworm is a dermatophyte (fungal) infection of the beard area.

Tinea barbae is a type of dermatophytosis. It is most often caused by Trichophyton mentagrophytes or Trichophyton verrucosum. Tinea barbae usually causes superficial, circular patches, but deeper infection may occur. An inflamed kerion may also develop, which can result in scarring and whisker loss. Tinea barbae is rare. Most skin infections in the beard area are caused by bacteria, not fungi.

Doctors diagnose tinea barbae by examining a sample of skin (skin scraping) or plucked hairs under a microscope or by doing a culture (the process of growing an organism in a laboratory for identification) or biopsy.

Treatment

  • Antifungal drugs taken by mouth

  • Sometimes a corticosteroid

Treatment of tinea barbae is with an antifungal drug, such as griseofulvin, terbinafine, or itraconazole, taken by mouth.

If the area is severely inflamed, doctors may add a short course of a corticosteroid such as prednisone taken by mouth to lessen symptoms and perhaps reduce the chance of scarring.

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