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J Dermatol. 2011 Nov;38(11):1049-53. doi: 10.1111/j.1346-8138.2011.01320.x. Epub 2011 Sep 22.

Disruption of barrier function in dermatophytosis and pityriasis versicolor.

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Department of Dermatology, School of Medicine, Kyungpook National University, Daegu, Korea.


Dermatophytes have the ability to form molecular attachments to keratin and use it as a source of nutrients, colonizing keratinized tissues, including the stratum corneum of the skin. Malassezia species also affect the stratum corneum of the skin. Therefore, dermatophytosis and pityriasis versicolor of the skin are thought to be important factors of profound changes in skin barrier structure and function. We aimed to describe the changes in transepidermal water loss (TEWL), stratum corneum hydration, and skin pH in the lesions of the dermatophytosis and pityriasis versicolor. Thirty-six patients with dermatophytosis (14 with tinea cruris, 13 with tinea corporis and nine with tinea pedis or tinea manus) and 11 patients with pityriasis versicolor were included in this study. TEWL, stratum corneum conductance and skin pH were determined by biophysical methods to examine whether our patients exhibited changes in barrier function. Dermatophytosis and pityriasis versicolor except tinea pedis and tinea manus showed highly significant increase in TEWL compared with adjacent infection-free skin. Hydration was significantly reduced in lesional skin compared with adjacent infection-free skin. From this study, infections with dermatophytes and Malassezia species on the body can alter biophysical properties of the skin, especially the function of stratum corneum as a barrier to water loss. On the contrary, infections with dermatophytes on the palms and soles little affect the barrier function of the skin.

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