BACKGROUND: Trichophyton (T.) tonsurans infection has been increasing gradually in non-athletes, i.e. general population as well as athletes since it was first reported that athletes had been infected in Korea in 1995, whereas it is a common dermatophyte species in the United States and Europe. OBJECTIVE: We performed retrospective study to observe tinea infections caused by T. tonsurans. METHOD: The clinical and epidermiological study was made with 105 patients of T. tonsurans infection among out-patients in our skin clinic from March, 1995 to December, 2003. RESULT: In 105 cases of T. tonsurans infection 73 ones were athletes such as wrestlers and judo players, and 32 ones were non-athletes. The infected skin lesions of 114 cases showed mild to moderate inflammation, whereas 7 ones showed moderate to severe inflammation. The results of KOH wet mount were positive in 92 cases (87.6%). In fungal culture with Potato dextrose agar-corn meal-tween 80, the mahogany variety (53.3%) was more than the sulfreum one (22.8%), which was less significant because the percentage of unclassified cases (23.8%) influenced on variety distribution considerably (p> 0.05, chi-test). Microscopic findings of cultured fungus showed hyphae with match-box type microconidia. Preferred anatomical sites were scalp (35.2%), face (32.4%), upper extremities (16.2%), and neck (14.3%). The rate of sex was 89 cases in male and 16 ones in female. The mean age was 16.1+/-4.6, ranged from 3 to 44 years. There is no difference between athletes and non-athletes. Preferred seasons were winter (44.8%) and spring (33.3%). The occurrence of the cases in athletes, which reached the peak in 1997, has been maintained since 1995, while the number of the cases in non-athletes has minimally increased until 2003. Throughout this study it proves that the occurrence of the infection has been disseminating with athletes of a hand-to-hand fight through a lot of physical contact in the center because of frequent athletic meetings since T. tonsurans was introduced in Korea in 1995. Moreover, there is a increasing tendency toward T. tonsurans infection in non-athletes. Therefore, athletic and medical associations should make continual observations of T. tonsurans infection and take close consideration into systematic management and strategy against the infection in order to suppress probable prevalence of the contagion in our society.
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