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Beard Ringworm (Tinea Barbae)

(Barber's Itch)

By

Denise M. Aaron

, MD, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center

Last full review/revision Feb 2020| Content last modified Feb 2020
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Topic Resources

Beard ringworm is a dermatophyte (fungal) infection, generally 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 (a swollen patch generally on the scalp that sometimes oozes pus) 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 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 corticosteroid such as prednisone taken by mouth to lessen symptoms and perhaps reduce the chance of scarring.

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