Dermatoscopy for the rapid diagnosis of Talaromyces marneffei infection: a case report

BMC Infect Dis. 2019 Aug 9;19(1):707. doi: 10.1186/s12879-019-4351-2.


Background: Talaromyces marneffei is a thermally dimorphic fungus endemic in south-east Asia. It predominantly occurs in both immunocompromised and immunosuppressed patients and can be fatal if diagnosis and treatment are delayed. The clinical manifestations of T. marneffei infection are nonspecific and rapid diagnosis of T. marneffei infection remains challenging.

Case presentation: A 24-year-old man came to our outpatient department with the sign of common skin lesions. The lesions were cuticolor follicular papules with or without central umbilication, nodules and acne-like lesions, which are common in syringoma, steatocystoma multiplex and trichoepithelioma. A dermatoscopy examination was performed to differentiate these skin lesions. The dermatoscopic images revealed circular or quasi-circular whitish amorphous structure with a central brownish keratin plug, providing the diagnostic clues of T. marneffei infection. Therefore, a skin scrapings culture, skin biopsy and serological detection for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) were performed. The final diagnosis of this patient was T. marneffei and HIV co-infection.

Conclusion: Rapid diagnosis of T. marneffei infection is clinically challenging since presenting clinical manifestations are nonspecific with significant overlap with other common conditions. This case highlights that dermatoscopy is a promising tool for the rapid diagnosis of T. marneffei infection in patients with nonspecific skin lesions, assisting clinicians to avoid delayed diagnosis or misdiagnosis.

Keywords: Dermatoscopy; Rapid diagnosis; Talaromyces marneffei.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Amphotericin B / therapeutic use
  • Anti-HIV Agents / therapeutic use
  • Antifungal Agents / administration & dosage
  • Antifungal Agents / therapeutic use
  • China
  • Dermoscopy / methods*
  • HIV Infections / diagnosis
  • HIV Infections / drug therapy
  • Humans
  • Itraconazole / administration & dosage
  • Itraconazole / therapeutic use
  • Male
  • Mycology / methods
  • Mycoses / diagnosis*
  • Mycoses / drug therapy
  • Talaromyces / pathogenicity*
  • Young Adult


  • Anti-HIV Agents
  • Antifungal Agents
  • Itraconazole
  • Amphotericin B