If a patient presents brittle, white to yellowish nails or reddened, scaling and, especially, itching skin, it must be clarified whether they suffer from dermatomycosis, i.e. a fungal infection of nails, skin, or hair. Is most cases, dermatomycoses are caused by dermatophytes, so-called filamentous fungi. Depending on their occurrence and method of transmission, these are divided into anthropohilic (human infection source), zoophilic (animal infection source) and geophilic (soil as the infection source) dermatophytes. Antropophilic species are the most frequent causative agents of dermatomycosis, accounting for around 70% of cases. This fungal species is typically transferred through contact of the bare skin with the pathogen, e.g. in a swimming pool, and may cause, for example, tinea pedis. Zoophilic dermatophytes, in contrast, are usually transferred to humans via intensive contact with pets, cows or horses and geophilic dermatophytes may be transferred to humans whilst gardening.
Besides dermatophytes, also yeasts and moulds can cause dermatomycoses. However, these pathogens only account for a small share of primary fungal infections of skin and skin appendages. More frequently, yeasts and mould occur in the normal skin flora or as secondary pathogens at an infection site with dermatophytes, where they can spread further and hinder treatment.
If the infections remain untreated, they may spread further. Consequently, a tinea pedis (a fungal infection of the foot) may develop into an onychomycosis (an infection of the nail). Fungal infections can also spread to other, more distant parts of the body or to family members. Therefore, prompt diagnosis, e.g. by means of the EUROArray Dermatomycosis is urgently reguiqred in order to start a targeted treatment promptly to prevent further infections.