DermNet NZ

Facts about the skin from DermNet New Zealand Trust. Topic index: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Mycology of dermatophyte infections

Mycology is the study of fungi. Dermatophyte fungi are the ringworm fungi (tinea). They depend on their host, which may be an animal ("zoophilic") or a human ("anthropophilic") and need to spread from one host to another to survive. Dermatophytes may also prefer to live in the soil ("geophilic").

Anthropophilic dermatophytes are so well adapted to living on human skin that they provoke minimal inflammatory reaction. Zoophilic or geophilic dermatophytes will often provoke a more vigorous inflammatory reaction when they attempt to invade human skin.

There are three genera of dermatophytes, recognised by the nature of their macroconidae (asexual spores):

There are about 40 species. Their spores can live for more than a year in human skin scales in the environment.

Anthropophilic organisms include:

Zoophilic organisms include:

Geophilic organisms include:


The presence of a dermatophyte infection is confirmed by microscopy and culture of skin scrapings. Histopathological examination of skin or nails using periodic acid-Schiff (PAS) stains can reveal fungal elements.

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