Also known as … Chromomycosis, Cladosporiosis, Verrucous dermatitis, Fonseca’s disease, Pedroso’s disease.
Chromoblastomycosis is a long-term or chronic fungal infection of the skin and tissue underneath the superficial layer of the skin (called the subcutaneous tissue). It is more common in rural, tropical and subtropical areas of the world; it tends to present more severely in those with a suppressed or compromised immune system.
The fungi that cause chromoblastomycosis tend to be found on wood/bark and in the soil. These tend to enter the skin through a penetrating injury (a splinter, nail, or similar mechanism) especially in farmers, miners & rural area workers
There are six fungi that are responsible for the vast majority of cases: Fonsecaea pedrosoi, Fonsecaea compacta, Fonsecaea monophora, Phialophora verrucosa, Cladophialophora carrionii (formerly Cladosporium carrionii), and Rhinocladiella aquaspersa.
Chromoblastomycosis is characterised by slow growing, scaly, cauliflower-like (verrucous) lumps. Lesions may clear at the centre forming a ring-like area with a raised border. Surrounding smaller lesions (Satellites) may develop around the site from scratching.
The lesions can appear anywhere on the body, but the most affected areas are the feet, legs & arms.
The lesions may become secondarily infected with bacteria. The appearance of the lesions associated with chromoblastomycosis can be quite distressing.
Very rarely, the long-term or chronic lesions develop a type of skin cancer within, called squamous cell carcinomas (SCCs).
The diagnosis is usually made after taking a sample from the lesions for fungal scraping, a skin biopsy or tissue culture.
The condition is treated with oral antifungals; these are prescribed carefully by your Dermatologist or Infectious Disease specialist. Some examples include Itraconazole, Terbinafine and Posaconazole.
Depending on the size and thickness, some lesions are amenable to surgical removal, freezing using liquid nitrogen (cryotherapy) or heat therapy (Thermotherapy).
Small or solitary lesions have a high chance of being treated successfully with small residual scarring. Chronic and extensive disease is more difficult to treat & relapse is common.
This information has been written by Dr Ramez Barsoum & Dr Heba Jibreal.
Published February 2020