Skip to Content

Beard Ringworm (Tinea Barbae)

(Barber's Itch)

By

Denise M. Aaron

, MD, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center

Last full review/revision October 2018 by Denise M. Aaron, MD

Beard ringworm is a dermatophyte (fungal) infection, generally of the beard area.

(See also Overview of Fungal Skin Infections.)

Tinea barbae is a type of dermatophytosis. It is most often caused by Trichophyton mentagrophytes or Trichophyton verrucosum. Tinea barbae usually causes superficial, circular patches, but deeper infection may occur. An inflamed kerion (a swollen patch generally on the scalp that sometimes oozes pus) may also develop, which can result in scarring and whisker loss. Tinea barbae is rare. Most skin infections in the beard area are caused by bacteria, not fungi.

Beard Ringworm (Tinea Barbae)
Beard Ringworm (Tinea Barbae)
Image provided by Thomas Habif, MD.

Doctors diagnose tinea barbae by examining a sample of skin (skin scraping) or plucked hairs under a microscope or by doing a culture (the process of growing an organism in a laboratory for identification) or biopsy.

Treatment

  • Antifungal drugs taken by mouth
  • Sometimes a corticosteroid

Treatment of tinea barbae is with an antifungal drug, such as griseofulvin, terbinafine, or itraconazole, taken by mouth.

If the area is severely inflamed, doctors may add a short course of a corticosteroid such as prednisone taken by mouth to lessen symptoms and perhaps reduce the chance of scarring.

Drugs Mentioned In This Article

Generic Name Select Brand Names
griseofulvin GRIFULVIN V
itraconazole SPORANOX
terbinafine LAMISIL
prednisone RAYOS

© 2020 Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp., a subsidiary of Merck & Co., Inc., Kenilworth, NJ, USA. Merck Manual Disclaimer