Dermatophyte Infections

Dermatophytes are fungi that cause dermatophytosis (tinea infections) that frequently develop in skin creases and moist places. Here, let us learn more about dermatophytes and the infections caused by them.

Table of Contents

Define Dermatophyte

Fungi called dermatophytes need keratin to develop. These fungi have the ability to infect the skin, hair and nails on a superficial level. Dermatophytes are transmitted by direct contact with humans, animals, and soil-borne geophilic organisms as well as indirectly through fungi.

The term tinea exclusively relates to dermatophyte infections. Tinea infections or dermatophytosis are among the most prevalent causes of superficial fungal infections worldwide. They can be identified by the part of the body afflicted. Examples include tinea corporis (ringworm of the body), which affects the arms, trunk and legs, tinea capitis (also known as scalp ringworm), which affects the scalp and hair shafts, tinea faciei, which affects the facial skin, tinea cruris (also known as jock itch), which affects the groin and inner thighs, tinea pedis (also known as athlete’s foot) and tinea barbae affects the follicles of facial hair.

Types of Infections

Dermatophytosis frequently develops in skin creases and moist places. Erythema, induration, itching and scaling are typical signs of infection. The kind of fungal species, the infection site and the inflammatory response of the host all affect the severity of the infection.

Most of these skin infections are referred to as tinea (Latin word for worm) or ringworm, despite the fact that the infections are not caused by worms. It is believed that the term tinea (worm) refers to the dermatophyte’s snake-like appearance on the skin.

Athlete’s Foot

Tinea pedis or athlete’s foot is a fungal skin illness that frequently starts between the toes. Individuals who wear tight-fitting shoes and have excessively sweaty feet are more likely to get athlete’s foot. An itchy, scaly rash is one of the warning signs and symptoms of athlete’s foot. It is contagious and spreadable by contaminated surfaces, linens, or clothing. As well as ringworm and jock itch, athlete’s foot is strongly related to other fungal illnesses. Antifungal drugs can be used to treat it, but the illness frequently returns.

Also Check: Infectious and Non-infectious Causes

Jock Itch

Tinea cruris or Jock itch is another fungal infection that creates a red and itchy rash in warm and moist parts of the body. The rash frequently appears on the inner thighs and groin and may resemble a ring. Jock itch got its name due to its prevalence among athletes.

Those who sweat a lot or are overweight are likewise more likely to experience it. Jock itch is frequently annoying and irritating, although it’s typically not serious. The damaged skin may need to be treated with topical antifungal drugs, as well as keeping the groin area dry and clean.


A rash known as ringworm of the body (tinea corporis) is also brought on by a fungus. The rash is typically round and irritating, with clearer skin in the centre. Ringworm’s name comes from the way it looks. No worms are involved in this infection.

Jock itch (tinea cruris), athlete’s foot (tinea pedis) and ringworm of the scalp (tinea capitis) are all connected to ringworm of the body. Direct skin-to-skin contact with an infected person or animal is how ringworm most frequently spreads. Applying topical antifungal medicines to the skin frequently relieves mild ringworm. You might need to take antifungal medications for a few weeks if the illness is more serious.

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Frequently Asked Questions


What are dermatophytes?

Dermatophytes are fungi that cause fungal infections called dermatophytosis. The most frequent root causes of dermatophytes are those belonging to the genera Microsporum and Trichophyton. These dermatophytes feed on keratinised tissue and infect the hair, skin and nails.

What are the three types of dermatophytes?

The three types of dermatophytes are – zoophilic (animals), anthropophilic (humans) and geophilic (soil). These are classified based on the normal habitat of the fungi (dermatophyte).

What is tinea pedis?

Tinea pedis or athlete’s foot is an infection caused by a dermatophyte. It mostly affects the sole of the foot and is often associated with redness, scaling, itching and cracks.

What is tinea faciei?

A fungal infection of the facial skin is called tinea faciei. It usually appears on the eyebrows or one side of the face as a painless red rash with small bumps. It is also called facial ringworm.