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School of Biological Sciences
The University of Adelaide

Dr David Ellis

The Cutaneous Mycoses

These are superficial fungal infections of the skin, hair or nails.  No living tissue is invaded, however a variety of pathological changes occur in the host because of the presence of the infectious agent and its metabolic products.

Disease Causative organisms   Incidence
Ringworm of the scalp,
glabrous skin and nails.
Dermatophytes (Epidermophyton,Lophophyton, Microsporum, Nannizzia, Trichophyton ) Common
Candidiasis of skin,
mucous membranes
and nails.
Candida albicans and  related species. Common

Non-dermatophyte moulds
Neoscytalidium dimidiatum
Scopulariopsis brevicaulis


Dermatophytosis - Ringworm or Tinea

Ringworm of scalp, glabrous skin, and nails caused by a closely related group of fungi known as dermatophytes which have the ability to utilize keratin as a nutrient source, i.e. they have a unique enzymatic capacity - keratinase.

Candidiasis - Thrush

A primary or secondary mycotic infection caused by members of the genus Candida.  The clinical manifestations may be acute, subacute or chronic to episodic.  Involvement may be localized to the mouth, throat, skin, scalp, vagina, fingers, nails, bronchi, lungs, or the gastrointestinal tract, or become systemic as in septicaemia, endocarditis and meningitis.  In healthy individuals, Candida infections are usually due to impaired epithelial barrier functions and occur in all age groups, but are most common in the newborn and the elderly.  They usually remain superficial and respond readily to treatment.  Systemic candidiasis is usually seen in patients with cell-mediated immune deficiency, and those receiving aggressive cancer, immunosuppression, or transplantation therapy.