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Definition

Tinea barbae is an inflammation of the skin around hair follicles of the beard and mustache area. It results in circular areas of scaling, redness, and irritation of the skin around the hairs.

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Causes

Tinea barbae is caused by specific fungi. These fungi use the protein in the outer layer of skin for growth. It is most commonly transmitted to humans from farm animals that are infected with the fungi.

Risk Factors

Tinea barbae is much more common in men. Other factors that may increase your risk of getting tinea barbae include:

  • Occupations that put you in contact with farm animals
  • Hirsutism—excessive hair growth in women caused by elevated levels of male hormones
  • Medications or health conditions that suppress the immune system
Symptoms

Tinea barbae may cause:

  • Red, circular areas with clear borders in the beard and mustache area
  • There may also be blisters
  • Scaling and crusting
  • Itching
  • Pus-filled blisters around the hair follicle
  • There may be generalized symptoms, such as swollen glands, malaise, and fever
Diagnosis

Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Tinea barbae may be suspected because of how it looks and where it is located. To confirm the diagnosis your doctor may use:

  • Woods light examination—to help differentiate between different types of skin infections
  • Scraping—an area of the lesion is removed and examined under a microscope
  • Culture—may be done for recurrent infections or infection unresponsive to treatment
Treatment

Tinea barbae is treated with oral antifungal medication.

It is important to take all antifungal medication as directed, even after your skin clears.

Prevention

To help reduce your chance of getting tinea barbae, wash your hands and face on a regular basis. Hand washing is especially important after contact with any skin lesions. Do not share razors.

If your occupation puts you in contact with animals, consider covering the bearded area of your face. Wash your hands and face immediately after contact with animals.

RESOURCES:

American Academy of Dermatology
http://www.aad.org/for-the-public

American Academy of Family Physicians
http://familydoctor.org

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

Public Health Agency of Canada
http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca

The College of Family Physicians of Canada
http://www.cfpc.ca

References:

Folliculitis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://dynamed.ebscohost.com/about/about-us. Updated July 18, 2013. Accessed August 22, 2013.

Hainer BL. Dermatophyte infections. Am Fam Physician. 2003;67(1):101-108. Available at: http://www.aafp.org/afp/2003/0101/p101.html.

Noble SL, Forbes RC, et al. Diagnosis and management of common tinea infections. Am Fam Physician. 1998;58(1):163-174. Available at: http://www.aafp.org/afp/1998/0701/p163.html.

Rutecki GW, Wurtz R, et al. From animal to man: Tinea Barbae. Curr Infect Dis Rep. 2000;2(5):433-437.

Tinea infections. American Academy of Family Physicians website. Available at: http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/diseases-conditions/tinea-infections.html. Updated November 2010. Accessed August 22, 2013.



Last reviewed August 2013 by Michael Woods, MD

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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