Tinea or dermatophytoses are infectious diseases that are caused by certain fungi and primarily affect the skin, but also hair, fingernails and toenails.
What is tinea?
The ancient Greek name dermatophytosis derives from the terms for “skin” (derma) and “plant” (phyton). The Latin term tinea (“woodworm”) is also common.
Dermatophytosis can occur on different parts of the body. The clinical picture can be very different depending on the type of fungus and body region – redness, itching, dandruff – and blistering often occur. The best known is probably tinea pedis, athlete’s foot. For caudal regression syndrome dictionary definitions, please visit foodanddrinkjournal.com.
About every tenth to fifth person suffers from dermatophytosis in the course of their life; it is therefore the most common dermatological disease and one of the most common infectious diseases.
Dermatophytosis is triggered by so-called filamentous fungi. These are filamentous, unicellular fungi that colonize the hair, nails, and skin of humans and animals. A distinction is made between microspores, trichophytes and epidermophytes.
They are transmitted to humans from the outside – either from one person to the next, via contaminated surfaces (as often happens with athlete’s foot) or through close contact with animals, especially rodents, rabbits and cats.
People with a weakened immune system and people who suffer from diabetes mellitus, circulatory disorders of the skin or are overweight are affected significantly more often.
Typical symptoms & complaints
- skin redness
Diagnosis & History
Dermatologists distinguish between superficial and deeper dermatophytosis. The superficial form (Tinea superficialis) usually manifests itself as redness and itching in limited skin regions, which are often ring-shaped and surrounded by a darker edge. Sometimes there is hair loss or a thinning of the hair growth in the affected region.
In deeper dermatophytosis (tinea profunda), inflammation occurs, which can also be accompanied by the formation of pus and crusts. It is primarily found in the area of the scalp and beard, as the pathogens penetrate deeper into the skin along the hair roots. A rapid test for dermatophytoses is possible using the so-called Wood light. This is a black light lamp, in the light of which affected skin regions appear yellow-greenish.
In the diagnosis of dermatophytosis, it is crucial to precisely determine the triggering fungus in order to enable effective treatment. For this purpose, the doctor takes a sample of the affected tissue. By creating a fungal culture, information about the exact pathogen strain can be obtained.
Infections with dermatophytes are not uncommon and, provided they are treated adequately, usually heal without complications. Complications are to be expected in particular if the disorder is not taken seriously and is therefore not treated or if the patient’s immune system is severely attacked. In these cases, tinea corporis can develop, for example.
This infection affects the entire body, including the limbs, and can cause severe itching. Deeper dermatophytoses (tinea profunda) can also develop. These primarily affect the head and other hairy regions. In men, the part of the face that also shows beard hair is particularly affected.
Tinea profunda can be accompanied by purulent inflammation, which can be confused with purulent pustules, similar to those of acne. Deeper dermatophytoses in the head area can also cause the hair on the head to fall out, whereby only individual areas of the skull can thin out or the hair can break off even under slight stress.
In patients whose immune system is not fully functional, especially children, people suffering from diabetes mellitus or HIV-infected, there is also a risk that the fungal infection will take a severe course and affect the internal organs.
The treatment is often made more difficult by the fact that fungal spores can be transmitted very easily and therefore there is very often mutual infection between the members of a household, whereby pets can also be affected.
When should you go to the doctor?
Dermatophytosis can be treated at home with over-the-counter remedies. Fungicidal ointments and creams applied to the skin make the fungus disappear within days or weeks. However, a visit to the doctor should be considered if the person affected is suffering from dermatophytosis for the first time and may not be able to identify where the reddening of the skin is coming from. Reddened areas of skin can have many different causes that the layman cannot tell apart. Differential diagnoses include a contact allergy, mechanical irritation or a reaction to chemical substances such as the wrong care product.
The doctor can often tell at first glance whether it is dermatophytosis or not and can then carry out appropriate examinations of the reddened skin to confirm the diagnosis. Then nothing speaks against the patient treating the dermatophytosis himself at home. Since tinea often occurs in connection with existing diseases such as diabetes, those affected then treat it themselves without visiting a doctor, since they already know what the reddening is. However, if it does not go away within a few days, the doctor should still examine the suspected dermatophytosis. The redness may have another cause or the medication may need to be changed. It is also conceivable that the dose of over-the-counter ointments is not sufficient for stubborn dermatophytosis.
Treatment & Therapy
In healthy people, dermatophytoses sometimes heal without treatment; often, however, without medical therapy, it becomes chronic. In the case of mild forms, treatment with ointments that contain benzoic acid, for example, is often sufficient.
If the dermatophytosis is proven, antimycotics, specialized agents against fungal infestation, are used. These can either be applied to the affected area of the body in the form of creams, ointments or tinctures or – in severe cases – administered in tablet form.
During therapy, make sure to change laundry and towels regularly and wash them at at least 60 degrees to avoid reinfection. The affected parts of the body should not be touched in order not to spread the dermatophytes.
If these points are observed, the treatment of dermatophytosis is generally unproblematic and complete healing can be expected. Due to the skin’s good ability to regenerate, there are usually no visible traces and broken hair usually grows back completely.
There have already been efforts in medical research to develop a vaccine against infestation with dermatophytes ; However, this was not suitable for the masses due to severe side effects.
The most effective prevention is to avoid contact with potentially infected surfaces. This includes wearing appropriate shoes in public pools, communal showers and hostels. However, even in a private setting, care should be taken that towels and clothing are not shared by several people.
Dermatophytes thrive in warm, humid climates, so feet and skin folds should always be dried thoroughly; Breathable, airy clothing is also an advantage in this context. The usual hygiene precautions must also be observed when dealing with pets and livestock.
You can do that yourself
Patients with tinea (dermatophytosis) initially focus on treating the disease with medication. Because self-healing can take a long time.
Those affected regularly use the prescribed medication, usually antimycotics to be applied to the skin, in the prescribed dose. They observe the reaction of the diseased skin and consult the doctor in the event of side effects or a delayed healing process. Since tinea (dermatophytosis) is often associated with severe itching in the affected areas, patients must learn to resist the itching and not to scratch the fungus-affected areas of the skin. Touching the diseased skin areas is generally detrimental to healing and often aggravates the symptoms. In addition to increasing the itching from scratching, there is also a risk that the fungus will spread to other parts of the body.
During the disease, clothing should not be tight on the skin and allow good evaporation of sweat. Natural fibers and hypoallergenic textiles that are cut as wide as possible and allow good air circulation are therefore well suited.
After all, hygiene plays an enormously important role during illness. Patients with tinea avoid going to public swimming pools and saunas.