Know your fungi

In Australia the commonest encounter with fungi in a medical sense is with superficial and cutaneous fungal infections such as those infecting the skin, scalp or nails.

Tinea or ringworm of the scalp, skin and nails

Fungal infection of the scalp (tinea capitus), skin (tinea) and nails (tinea unguium, onychomycosis) is usually caused by dermatophytes which have a unique ability to utilise keratin as a nutrient source due to the presence of the enzyme keratinase allowing colonisation of the stratum corneum.

The presence of the fungus and its metabolic products can occasionally induce an allergic or inflammatory response in the host. The type and severity of the host response is often related to the species and strain of dermatophyte causing the infection.

Following is a list of the dermatophytes that have been identified in our laboratories:

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