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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.

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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
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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
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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
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Treatment  

Tinea barbae is treated with oral antifungal medication.

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

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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.