Mycology - an update part 2: dermatomycoses: clinical picture and diagnostics

J Dtsch Dermatol Ges. 2014 Sep;12(9):749-77. doi: 10.1111/ddg.12420.


Most fungal infections of the skin are caused by dermatophytes, both in Germany and globally. Tinea pedis is the most frequent fungal infection in Western industrial countries. Tinea pedis frequently leads to tinea unguium, while in the elderly, both may then spread causing tinea corporis. A variety of body sites may be affected, including tinea glutealis, tinea faciei and tinea capitis. The latter rarely occurs in adults, but is the most frequent fungal infection in childhood. Following antifungal treatment of tinea unguium and also tinea capitis a dermatophytid or hyperergic reaction to dermatophyte antigens may occur. Yeast infections affect the mucous membranes both of the gastro-intestinal system and the genital tract as candidiasis mostly due to Candida albicans. Cutaneous candidiasis affects predominantely the intertriginous regions such as groins and the inframammary area, but also the intertriginous space of fingers and toes. In contrast, pityriasis versicolor is a superficial epidermal fungal infection primarily on the the trunk. Mold infections are rare in dermatology; they play a role nearly exclusively in nondermatophyte-mold (NDM) onychomycosis. The diagnosis of dermatomycoses comprises the microscopic detection of fungi using the potassium hydroxide preparation or alternatively the fluorescence optical Blankophor preparation together with culture. The histological fungal detection with PAS staining possesses a high sensitivity, and it should play a more important role in particular for diagnosis of onychomycosis. Molecular biological methods, based on the amplification of fungal DNA with use of specific primers for the distinct causative agents are on the rise. With PCR, such as dermatophyte-PCR-ELISA, fungi can be detected directly in clinical material in a highly specific and sensitive manner without prior culture. Today, molecular methods, such as Matrix Assisted Laser Desorption/Ionization Time-Of-Flight Mass Spectrometry (MALDI TOF MS) as culture confirmation assay, complete the conventional mycological diagnostics.

MeSH terms

  • Dermatomycoses / diagnosis*
  • Dermatomycoses / microbiology*
  • Dermoscopy / methods*
  • Fungi / classification
  • Fungi / isolation & purification*
  • Humans
  • Molecular Diagnostic Techniques / methods*