An annular morphology was appreciated on close inspection and small pustules were seen at the edges—features consistent with tinea faciei, a fungal infection of facial skin. A skin exam did not reveal any scaling or erythema on the scalp, hands, feet, trunk, or nails. The diagnosis was confirmed during the visit with a skin scraping and examination in potassium hydroxide with parker pen blue ink (Swartz-Lamkins stain) which revealed hyphae. The diagnosis was made with the knowledge that a history of eczema increases the risk of fungal, viral, and bacterial infections due to an impaired skin barrier.
Tinea faciei is an uncommon diagnosis that often is misdiagnosed as facial dermatitis, rosacea, or acne. The differential diagnosis also includes discoid lupus and psoriasis. Rarely is the annular presentation as obvious as it was here. Diagnosing tinea faciei in a patient can be made more challenging if the patient is already being treated with steroids. That’s because the steroids may decrease the clinical signs of tinea and allow subtle, slow progression of disease.
The location of fungal disease has implications for treatment. While some cases of tinea faciei may respond to topical antifungals, involvement of the eyebrows and glandular structures of the mid-face are beyond the depth of penetration of topical formulations. In these cases, systemic antifungals such as terbinafine, griseofulvin, or itraconazole are more effective.
Because of eyebrow and glandular involvement, this patient was given oral terbinafine 250 mg/d for 3 weeks and the lesion cleared completely in that time.
Photos and text for Photo Rounds Friday courtesy of Jonathan Karnes, MD (copyright retained). Dr. Karnes is the medical director of MDFMR Dermatology Services, Augusta, ME.