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Mycoses. 2012 Mar;55(2):161-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1439-0507.2011.02055.x. Epub 2011 Jul 8.

Black yeast-like fungi in skin and nail: it probably matters.

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Unit of Mycology and Parasitology, Statens Serum Institut, Copenhagen, Denmark.


Black yeast-like fungi are rarely reported from superficial infections. We noticed a consistent prevalence of these organisms as single isolations from mycological routine specimens. To investigate the prevalence of black yeast-like fungi in skin, hair and nail specimens and to discuss the probability of these species to be involved in disease. Slow-growing black yeast-like fungi in routine specimens were prospectively collected and identified. A questionnaire regarding patient information was sent to physicians regarding black yeast-like fungus positive patients. A total of 20,746 dermatological specimens were examined by culture. Black yeast-like fungi accounted for 2.2% (n=108) of the positive cultures. Only 31.0% of the samples, culture positive for black yeast-like fungi were direct microscopy positive when compared with overall 68.8% of the culture positive specimens. The most prevalent species were Phialophora europaea (n=29), Coniosporium epidermidis (n=12), Ochroconis cf. humicola (n=6) and Cladophialophora boppii (n=4). These are not common saprobes and thus less likely to be coincidental colonizers. In 10/30 cases, discolouration of nail/skin had been noticed. A limited number of black yeast-like fungi were repeatedly isolated from routine specimens suggesting that they may play a role in superficial infections or as colonizers.

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