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Tinea Faciei Workup

  • Author: Robert A Schwartz, MD, MPH; Chief Editor: Dirk M Elston, MD  more...
Updated: Jun 22, 2016

Laboratory Studies

Even in the best mycology laboratories, as many as 30% of culture results may be negative, particularly in chronic infections.

Mycologic investigation is essential in the diagnosis of tinea faciei. It includes direct microscopic examination for hyphal elements and culturing.

The collection of the surface scrapings is important for laboratory studies. The material should be obtained from the border of the lesions where the more severe inflammatory reaction occurs and where more fungal elements are present.

Direct microscopic examination is the easiest mycologic procedure. Scrapings are placed in 10-20% potassium hydroxide (KOH) solution, usually with the addition of dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO). The latter helps to dissolve background keratinocytes to enable visualization of the fungal elements. After warming the slide for a short time, the specimen is examined with a light microscope. Some authors suggest detection is enhanced with special stains, such as chlorazol black E, Parker blue-black ink, or Swartz-Lamkin stain.

Culturing allows the identification of the causative pathogen. Culturing is performed routinely with Sabouraud agar and the addition of cycloheximide and chloramphenicol. These substances inhibit the growth of bacteria and other contaminants. After 3-4 weeks of incubation, the final identification is based on morphologic and microscopic findings in the colonies.

Dermatophytes may be diagnosed by using special media for rapid detection. This media contains a color indicator that changes from yellow to red with the growth of dermatophytes after a few days of incubation.


Histologic Findings

Histologic examination may occasionally be useful for establishing the diagnosis, but it is usually unnecessary. Its pattern is variable, ranging from mild focal spongiosis to a chronic spongiotic psoriasiform dermatitis with a mixed dermal inflammatory infiltrate and fungi in the cornified layer.[13] Routine histopathologic evaluation with hematoxylin-eosin staining may reveal cutaneous fungal elements, but periodic acid–Schiff (PAS) staining is recommended to facilitate visualization.

Hyphae may be detected in the stratum corneum of the epidermis. Infections with T rubrum or Trichophyton verrucosum may invade hairs and follicles. A mixed cellular inflammatory infiltrate is usually present in the papillary dermis, and neutrophils may extend into the horny layers above.

Contributor Information and Disclosures

Robert A Schwartz, MD, MPH Professor and Head of Dermatology, Professor of Pathology, Pediatrics, Medicine, and Preventive Medicine and Community Health, Rutgers New Jersey Medical School; Visiting Professor, Rutgers University School of Public Affairs and Administration

Robert A Schwartz, MD, MPH is a member of the following medical societies: Alpha Omega Alpha, New York Academy of Medicine, American Academy of Dermatology, American College of Physicians, Sigma Xi

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.


Jacek C Szepietowski, MD, PhD Professor, Vice-Head, Department of Dermatology, Venereology and Allergology, Wroclaw Medical University; Director of the Institute of Immunology and Experimental Therapy, Polish Academy of Sciences, Poland

Disclosure: Received consulting fee from Orfagen for consulting; Received consulting fee from Maruho for consulting; Received consulting fee from Astellas for consulting; Received consulting fee from Abbott for consulting; Received consulting fee from Leo Pharma for consulting; Received consulting fee from Biogenoma for consulting; Received honoraria from Janssen for speaking and teaching; Received honoraria from Medac for speaking and teaching; Received consulting fee from Dignity Sciences for consulting; .

Specialty Editor Board

David F Butler, MD Section Chief of Dermatology, Central Texas Veterans Healthcare System; Professor of Dermatology, Texas A&M University College of Medicine; Founding Chair, Department of Dermatology, Scott and White Clinic

David F Butler, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Medical Association, Alpha Omega Alpha, Association of Military Dermatologists, American Academy of Dermatology, American Society for Dermatologic Surgery, American Society for MOHS Surgery, Phi Beta Kappa

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Van Perry, MD Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine, Division of Dermatology, University of Texas School of Medicine at San Antonio

Van Perry, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Dermatology

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Chief Editor

Dirk M Elston, MD Professor and Chairman, Department of Dermatology and Dermatologic Surgery, Medical University of South Carolina College of Medicine

Dirk M Elston, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Dermatology

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

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Multiple lesions on the face caused by Microsporum canis infection in a patient who also has tinea capitis.
Erythematous scaling lesion on the cheek.
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