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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

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Tinea barbae is a dermatophyte infection of the beard area most often caused by Trichophyton mentagrophytes or T. verrucosum.

Tinea barbae is a dermatophytosis that manifests in the beard area as superficial annular lesions, but deeper infection similar to folliculitis may occur. Tinea barbae may also occur as an inflammatory kerion that can result in scarring hair loss.


  • Potassium hydroxide wet mount

Diagnosis of tinea barbae is by potassium hydroxide wet mount of involved skin or plucked hairs, culture, or biopsy.


  • Oral antifungals

  • Sometimes prednisone

Treatment of tinea barbae is micronized griseofulvin 500 mg to 1 g po once/day until 2 to 3 wk after clinical clearance. Terbinafine 250 mg po once/day and itraconazole 200 mg po once/day have also been used.

If the lesions are severely inflamed, a short course of prednisone should be added (to lessen symptoms and perhaps reduce the chance of scarring), starting with 40 mg po once/day (for adults) and tapering the dose over 2 wk.

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