Tinea Manuum (Hand Fungus)

Infection of the hands by dermatophytes fungi is known as tinea manuum. Like most skin infection by dermatophytes, tinea manuum is also superficial and affects just the uppermost skin layer.

Symptoms of tinea manuum

Listed below are a few common signs and symptoms of tinea manuum:

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  • The rash on skin has reddish raised borders with a slightly clear center region, thereby making it appear like a bulls-eye.
  • Dry skin may be present, with or without skin peeling
  • Tinea manuum rash can be extremely itchy. Patients may also experience burning sensations at affected areas. Severity of itchiness and burning sensations differ from one patient to another.
  • Small blisters may form in the palm and the sides of fingers. The blisters may ooze or discharge fluids
  • The rash typically affects only one hand. If both hands develop the infection, then associated rashes on each hand are dissimilar in shape and size
  • Prolonged recovery period is often marked by discoloration of skin at infected site

Causes of tinea manuum

  • The uppermost layers of skin are home to dead skin cells with abundant keratin proteins. It makes the skin waterproof, strong, and tough as well as protects the delicate inner layers of skin from different harmful environmental factors.
  • Tinea manuum infection of upper skin layer by dermatophytes fungi is marked by shallow rashes. The fungi produces enzymes known as keratinases which break down and metabolize keratin proteins present on the surface of skin. This lays the foundations for fungal infections to multiply and flourish.
  • Unlike healthy skin which heals quickly, unhealthy skin has a longer healing period for skin problems like tears, wounds, etc. This increases the risk of opportunistic skin infections, especially in those with impaired immune systems.
  • Tinea manuum is usually caused due to migration of an underlying fungal infection to the hands from some other part of the body. It is important to avoid scratching itchy fungal infections on the feet or other body areas as it may lead to transmission of the fungi to the hands
  • Tinea manuum dermatophytes fungal infection can spread from animal to humans (zoophilic), infected person to healthy people (anthropophilic), and soil to humans (geophilic).
  • Anthropophilic infections are most prevalent cause of tinea manuum rashes on skin. T.rubrum, trichophyton interdigitale, and epidermophyton floccosum are few known types of anthropophilic fungus; microsporum gypseum, a geophilic fungus; and microsporum canis which pass from dogs or cats and trichophyton verrucosum which spread via cattle are zoophilic fungi.

Even though all can get affected by tinea manuum, some factors which pose increased risk are mentioned below:

  • An ongoing dermatophyte skin infection in areas of the body other than the hands
  • Close contact with a patient of tinea manuum
  • Abnormal, excessive sweating
  • Occurrence of contact dermatitis or some other skin condition can impair the health of the skin and increase its vulnerability to development of tinea manuum or other secondary skin infections
  • Frequent and prolonged contact with dogs, cats, or other pets. Children are more susceptible to this mode of dermatophyte transmission than adults
  • Frequent and prolonged contact with soil and/or cattle or other livestock; farm workers are more prone to this transmission mode of tinea manuum. Manual laborers as well as gardeners who have regular and extended contact with soil, especially contaminated soil, are also at increased risk.

Treatment of tinea manuum

Medications can help cure tinea manuum skin infection in around 4-6 weeks. Treatment includes the following:

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  • Doctors may prescribe antifungal creams, gels, etc., like ciclopirox, clotrimazole, butenafine, terbinafine, or econazole to treat dermatophytes fungal infection of the hands.
  • It topical antifungals do not work, or for severe cases of tinea manuum, doctors may prescribe antifungal tablets or capsules such as fluconazole, griseofulvin, terbinafine, or itraconazole, etc.
  • For cases where tinea manuum is caused by another underlying skin disease, then it is necessary to treat that disease as well as to prevent reoccurrence of the fungal rash on the hands

Self-care measures and home remedies for tinea manuum are listed below:

  • Fungi flourish in moist and warm surroundings. Hence, takes steps to avoid increased perspiration and keep the hands cool and dry
  • Antiseptic properties of tea tree oil and apple cider vinegar can help control the fungal infection. Wash and clean infected site, tap dry, and apply either apple cider vinegar or tea tree oil on the rash
  • Hydrogen peroxide helps clean different kinds of skin infections. Patients may dilute hydrogen peroxide with water and use it to clean tinea manuum rash
  • Infection of the skin near the nails can be cleared via application of nail polish remover or nail polish
  • High-risk individuals may protect skin from fungal overgrowth by using garlic oil, oregano oil, or other kinds of essential oils
  • The fine balance of flora on the surface of skin can be maintained with probiotics
  • B complex vitamins also improve health of skin and decrease risk to fungal or other pathogenic infections
  • Inflammation of the fingers and hands can be alleviated via application of fish oil which has anti-inflammatory qualities
  • Grapefruit seed extract can also be used as a home remedy for tinea manuum as it has antifungal and immune boosting properties.

Tinea Manuum (Hand Fungus) Pictures


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