Last reviewed by Dr. Raj MD on January 12th, 2022.
What is a Dermatophytosis?
It is a type of fungal infection primarily caused by dermatophytes. What is a dermatophyte infection? It is a type of infection caused by fungi that invade and grow in the dead keratin. The dermatophyte species that invade the human keratin include Microsporum, Epidermophyton, and Trichophyton genera.
Dermatophytosis is commonly known as ringworm because it grows outward on the skin creating a ring-like pattern. It affects the hair, nails, feet, groin, scalp, and the superficial skin. Another term for dermatophytosis is tinea infection. The exact name depends on the body site involved. (1, 2, 3)
How is Dermatophytosis transmitted?
There are various ways to spread/transmit the infection. In some instances, a dermatophyte infection can be transmitted via direct contact. Some are transmitted from animal host to humans while some humans can get the infection from the soil.
In fact, the infection can be transmitted via indirect contacts such as from fomites like hats and hairbrushes. (2, 3, 4)
Image 1: The typical characteristic of a ringworm.
Picture Source: www.healthline.com
Picture 2: A dermatophyte infection in the patient’s foot.
Photo Source: images.onhealth.com
Photo 3: A dermatophyte infection in the groin area.
Image Source: www.symptoma.com
Classification of dermatophytosis based on location
- Tinea unguium – It affects the nails and nail bed (fingernails and toenail).
- Tinea pedis – It affects the foot/also known as athlete’s foot.
- Tinea cruris – It affects the groin area/also known as jock itch.
- Tinea corporis – It is the type of fungal infection that affects the arms, legs, and the trunk.
- Tinea barbae – It affects facial hair.
- Tinea capitis – It affects the hair and the scalp.
- Tinea manuum – It affects the palm and the hands.
- Tinea faciei – It involves the face (fungal infection of the face). (3, 4, 5)
- Inflammation characterized by redness and scaling at the sides/edges of the lesion
- In some instances, there are blister formations
- The nails may be thickened and discolored and when reached the advanced stage could make the nails crumble and fall off
- The red patches itch, become red, and ooze (5, 6)
A dermatophytosis infection is usually treated using imidazole cream, which needs to be applied to the affected parts two times a day for one to two weeks. Other treatment alternatives include:
- Salicylic acid
- Benzoic acid ointment
- If the infection is severe, then a topical medication may not be enough. The patient needs to be put on systemic treatment using oral drugs. (5, 6)
Observe strict hygiene measures
It is important to keep the affected area and the rest of the body clean and dry at all times. Use germicidal soap when cleaning the skin and make sure you use clean clothes/freshly washed clothes. The fungi that cause dermatophytosis thrive in the warm and moist environment. The areas or places where the infection is most likely to thrive include swimming pools, locker rooms, and tanning beds.
Make sure that if you are in public places, you disinfect the things before using them such as when renting bowling shoes. When in the gym, make sure you observe careful measures, especially when using exercise machines. As much as possible, you should avoid sharing towels, especially if the person has an active infection. (6, 7, 8)
What can you do to avoid dermatophytosis?
- Be very careful when it comes to sharing your clothes and other personal belongings. Do not share items with someone who has an infection.
- When in the gym, see to it that the sports equipment you are using is clean and sanitized. As you know, there are a lot of people in the gym and the spread of infection is always possible.
- Keep your towels and bed sheets clean at all times.
- If you are suspecting an exposure to fungi, then you have to clean yourself using germicidal and fungicidal soap. You also need to wash your clothes in hot water and use detergent with a fungicidal property.
- Do not walk barefooted, especially in public places. Make it a habit to wear the right shoes/footwear.
- You could be a pet lover, but sadly you should not touch stray pets, especially the ones with bald spots as they could be a carrier of fungus.
- You might want to consider getting vaccinated against dermatophytosis. The vaccine is called Insol Dermatophyton (Boehringer Ingelheim). It provides protection against dermatophytes for a specific time period. (6, 7, 8, 9)
Natural remedies for dermatophytosis
Image 4: Some of the natural remedies for dermatophyte infection.
Picture Source: parentinghealthybabies.com
A dermatophyte infection can be managed using natural remedies. Some of the simple yet tested and proven natural remedies for dermatophyte infection include the following:
- Soap and water – keep the affected area clean as possible so as to prevent the spread of infection and keep it under control. Use lukewarm water and antibacterial/fungicidal soap. Keep the area clean and dry because moisture and warm environment permit the spread of infection.
- Apple cider vinegar – This is a must-have ingredient in your kitchen. It is not only useful in cooking but also works best in fighting various forms of diseases. Apple cider vinegar has an antifungal property, which makes it effective in the treatment of fungal-related diseases like ringworm. Using a cotton ball, soak it in the apple cider vinegar solution and apply on the affected part of the body.
- Tea tree oil – It is known for its antibacterial and antifungal property. It is one of the commonly used ingredients in battling various types of skin diseases. For the treatment of dermatophyte infection, you have to apply tea tree oil to the affected area two to three times a day. If you have a sensitive skin, dilute the tea tree oil with jojoba oil or coconut oil. (6, 9, 10)
When should you call out for help?
If you have tried the treatment and remedies mentioned above but still your condition does not seem to improve, then you need to see your doctor. A prescription medicine might be necessary so as to improve your overall condition and prevent the spread of infection. (2, 5)