What is Tinea Faciei?

D. Jeffress

Tinea faciei is a variety of fungal infection that affects skin on the face or scalp. Infection is characterized by itchy, round, scaly patches that are slightly raised and either pink or red in color. The same fungi that cause athlete's foot and ringworm can cause breakouts on the face, and the infection can be transmitted to others via direct contact or by sharing personal hygiene items. In most cases, tinea faciei can be cured by applying a daily topical antifungal cream for about two weeks. Severe infections may require high-strength creams or oral drugs prescribed by a dermatologist.

The fungi that cause athlete's foot also cause tinea faciei.
The fungi that cause athlete's foot also cause tinea faciei.

The fungi that cause tinea faciei are found all over the world, though people who live in tropical, wet climates are the likeliest to acquire infections. Young children and people who have weakened immune systems are at the highest risk of developing major symptoms. In many cases, a fungal infection begins elsewhere on the body, such as the toes, and is accidentally transferred to the face after scratching the infected area or using a wet towel. Fungi are contagious and can spread to other people if they share razors, towels, or cosmetics with an infected person.

Antifungal creams may help clear up tinea faciei, a type of fungus that often appears on the face.
Antifungal creams may help clear up tinea faciei, a type of fungus that often appears on the face.

Tinea faciei rashes tend to develop over the course of about one week. The first signs of an infection are usually multiple raised patches that cover a small area of the face. Over a few days, the patches develop a scaly feel and begin to itch. The rash is typically much redder than the surrounding area of skin and has a well-defined border. Itching and soreness are often the worst when the face is exposed to direct sunlight.

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The same fungi that causes ringworm can cause breakouts on the face.
The same fungi that causes ringworm can cause breakouts on the face.

It is important to visit a dermatologist whenever a face rash appears suddenly and persists for several days. The doctor can usually make a diagnosis of tinea faciei solely based on the physical appearance of the patches. In some instances, he or she may decide to collect a small sample of skin tissue from the infected area and have it tested in a laboratory to confirm the specific fungus involved.

Tinea faciei is characterized by itchy, raised scaly patches on the scalp.
Tinea faciei is characterized by itchy, raised scaly patches on the scalp.

If a patient's rash is mild and does not cause significant itching symptoms, the doctor may suggest an over-the-counter topical ointment such as tolnaftate or clotrimazole. More serious instances of tinea faciei can be treated with prescription-strength ointments. The dermatologist might also prescribe an oral antifungal drug if symptoms persist or worsen despite about two weeks of topical treatment. When treated correctly, most tinea faciei breakouts disappear in less than one month without scarring the skin.

An untreated scalp fungus may produce unsightly flakes.
An untreated scalp fungus may produce unsightly flakes.
Severe tinea faciei infections may require prescription strength creams only a dermatologist can provide.
Severe tinea faciei infections may require prescription strength creams only a dermatologist can provide.
Left untreated, a scalp infection may cause hair loss.
Left untreated, a scalp infection may cause hair loss.
The fungi that cause tinea faciei are most likely to be found in tropical, wet climates.
The fungi that cause tinea faciei are most likely to be found in tropical, wet climates.

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Discussion Comments

donasmrs

@literally45-- I think you should see a doctor first because there are different kinds of skin fungal infections and they can look similar. If you get a diagnosis first, you'll know which medication to use as well.

Terbinafine is an anti-fungal, but isn't it usually used for yeast infections. When I had tinea barbae, which is basically tinea faciei but in the beard region, I used clotrimazole (prescribed). It took a few weeks for the infection to go away but it did work.

literally45

I think I have ringworm on my face. There is a round patch on my forehead. It's not very scaly, but it is red and it does itch. I bought terbinafine 1% OTC cream from the pharmacy. Will this work? How long do I need to use it for?

discographer

I had a ringworm infection on my scalp last summer. I think I got the infection from the pool I used to go to daily.

My mom actually noticed the patches first when she saw me itching and touching my scalp often. My doctor diagnosed me as soon as he took a look at my scalp. I had to use both oral and topical anti-fungal medications to get rid of it. The doctor wanted me on both because apparently, ringworm can be very difficult to wipe out and he was afraid that the infection would spread to my face. I was also very scared about that.

Thankfully, the medications worked and I was free of the infection in ten days. The medications must have been hard on my liver, but I didn't have another choice.

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