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Dermatophyte Infections - Article
ABSTRACT: Dermatophytes are fungi that require keratin for growth. These fungi can cause superficial infections of the skin, hair, and nails. Dermatophytes are spread by direct contact from other people (anthropophilic organisms), animals (zoophilic organisms), and soil (geophilic organisms), as well as indirectly from fomites. Dermatophyte infections can be readily diagnosed based on the history, physical examination, and potassium hydroxide (KOH) microscopy. Diagnosis occasionally requires Wood's lamp examination and fungal culture or histologic examination. Topical therapy is used for most dermatophyte infections. Cure rates are higher and treatment courses are shorter with topical fungicidal allylamines than with fungistatic azoles. Oral therapy is preferred for tinea capitis, tinea barbae, and onychomycosis. Orally administered griseofulvin remains the standard treatment for tinea capitis. Topical treatment of onychomycosis with ciclopirox nail lacquer has a low cure rate. For onychomycosis, "pulse" oral therapy with the newer imidazoles (itraconazole or fluconazole) or allylamines (terbinafine) is considerably less expensive than continuous treatment but has a somewhat lower mycologic cure rate. The diagnosis of onychomycosis should be confirmed by KOH microscopy, culture, or histologic examination before therapy is initiated, because of the expense, duration, and potential adverse effects of treatment.