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Beard Ringworm

(Tinea Barbae; Barber's Itch)

by Denise M. Aaron, MD

Beard ringworm is a dermatophyte (fungal) infection of the beard area most often caused by Trichophyton mentagrophytes or Trichophyton verrucosum.

Tinea barbae is a type of dermatophytosis (see Overview of Dermatophytoses (Ringworm, Tinea)). Tinea barbae usually causes superficial circular patches, but deeper infection may occur. An inflamed kerion (see Psoriasis) may also develop, which can result in scarring hair loss. Tinea barbae is rare. Most skin infections in the beard area are caused by bacteria, not fungi. Doctors diagnose the infection by examining a sample of skin or plucked hairs under a microscope or by doing a culture or biopsy.

Treatment 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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