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 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.
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.
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.
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.