Dermatomycosis (DM) is the medical term for a fungal infection of the skin.
The most common DM is that known as athlete's foot. Here, fungi thrive in the warm, humid microclimate of toes and spaces between the toes. Many patients contract this disease in public pools or showers, where there are a high pathogenic load and sufficient humidity. Once the fungal pathogen infected the skin of the foot, it may easily be transmitted to other areas of the body, e.g., to nails, hands, head, and groin. However, an athlete's foot is not an absolute requirement to develop those pathologies and a patient may contract them as single entities.
Symptoms vary with the fungal pathogen and with the area of the body affected by DM. Many DM are associated with scaly, reddened skin and itching. The skin might look chapped and lose hair if any is present. A very common presentation of DM is that of the ringworm. It manifests in form of red, round or ring-shaped, itching rashes.
While the clinical picture may indicate a DM, it is always better to directly prove the presence of a fungal agent. Therefore, the physician will obtain skin, hair or nail samples, analyze them under a microscope and possibly establish a fungal culture.
Drug therapy is indicated to eliminate the pathogen from the skin. Focal, uncomplicated DM are usually treated with antimycotics for topical use, e.g., creams, ointments or nail polish. Non-responsive cases or these that initially present as extensive infections may be treated with systemic antifungal drugs. Any therapy should be continued until two weeks after complete resolution of symptoms if relapses are to be avoided.