Symptoms of dermatophytoses include rashes, scaling, and itching.
Doctors usually examine the affected area and view a skin or nail sample under a microscope or sometimes do a culture.
Antifungal medications applied directly to the affected areas or taken by mouth usually cure the infection.
(See also Overview of Fungal Skin Infections Overview of Fungal Skin Infections Fungi usually live in moist areas of the body where skin surfaces meet: between the toes, in the genital area, and under the breasts. Yeasts and molds are types of fungi. Candida and Malassezia... read more .)
Dermatophyte infections are sometimes called ringworm or tinea. Despite the name, a ringworm infection does not involve worms. The name arose because of the ring-shaped patches that appear on the skin resulting from the infection.
Did You Know...
Dermatophytes are molds (a type of fungi) that need the protein keratin for nutrition. Keratin is the structural material that makes up the outer layer of human skin. It is also the main structural material of hair and nails. To survive, dermatophytes must live on skin, hair, or nails (a nail infection is called tinea unguium or onychomycosis Onychomycosis Onychomycosis is a fungal infection of the nails. (See also Overview of Nail Disorders.) About 10% of people have onychomycosis, which most often affects the toenails rather than the fingernails... read more ).
Infection may occur almost anywhere on the skin, including the
A dermatophyte infection on one area of the body can cause a skin eruption to appear on another area of the body that is not infected (see Dermatophytid Reaction Dermatophytid Reaction A dermatophytid reaction is the body's reaction to a dermatophyte (fungal) infection and is a skin eruption that appears on an area of the body that is not the area where the infection first... read more ).
Dermatophyte infections in humans are caused by the fungi Epidermophyton, Microsporum, and Trichophyton. These organisms may inhabit a person permanently and never cause an infection. When they do cause an infection (resulting in ringworm or tinea), it is often because the affected area's blood supply is poor or because the person's immune system is suppressed (for example, by diabetes Diabetes Mellitus (DM) Diabetes mellitus is a disorder in which the body does not produce enough or respond normally to insulin, causing blood sugar (glucose) levels to be abnormally high. Symptoms of diabetes may... read more , cancer Overview of Cancer A cancer is an abnormal growth of cells (usually derived from a single abnormal cell). The cells have lost normal control mechanisms and thus are able to multiply continuously, invade nearby... read more , or HIV infection Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) Infection Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection is a viral infection that progressively destroys certain white blood cells and is treated with antiretroviral medications. If untreated, it can cause... read more ). Unlike candidiasis Candidiasis (Yeast Infection) Candidiasis is infection with the yeast Candida. Candidiasis tends to occur in moist areas of the skin. This skin infection may cause rashes, scaling, itching, and swelling. Doctors examine... read more , these fungal infections cannot infect internal organs or blood.
Symptoms of Dermatophytoses
Symptoms of a dermatophyte infection vary depending on the location of the infection.
Most often, there is little or no inflammation and the ring-shaped patches are mildly itchy with a scaling, slightly raised border. These patches can come and go intermittently.
Occasionally, inflammation is more severe and suddenly causes large and small fluid-filled spots to appear (usually on the foot) or an inflamed, swollen patch on the scalp that sometimes oozes pus (kerion Kerion Scalp ringworm is a dermatophyte (fungal) infection of the scalp. Symptoms of tinea capitis include a dry patch of scale, a patch of hair loss, or both on the scalp. Doctors base the diagnosis... read more ).
Diagnosis of Dermatophytoses
A doctor's examination of the skin
Examination of scrapings
Sometimes culture of scrapings
Doctors can frequently identify a tinea infection by its appearance.
To confirm the diagnosis of tinea, doctors take skin scrapings Scrapings Doctors can identify many skin disorders simply by looking at the skin. A full skin examination includes examination of the scalp, nails, and mucous membranes. Sometimes the doctor uses a hand-held... read more and view them under a microscope. Doctors do a culture Culture Doctors can identify many skin disorders simply by looking at the skin. A full skin examination includes examination of the scalp, nails, and mucous membranes. Sometimes the doctor uses a hand-held... read more of the scrapings (the process of growing an organism in a laboratory for identification) only if the person has a scalp or nail infection. Identifying the type of fungus helps doctors choose the best treatment.
Treatment of Dermatophytoses
Antifungal medications applied to the skin or taken by mouth
Treatment of tinea varies by site but always involves antifungal medications that are applied to the affected area (topical) or are taken by mouth. (See also table .)
Corticosteroids may be given to relieve itching and inflammation.