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Volume 26, Number 9—September 2020

Etymologia: Dermatophyte

Aline E. Santana and Fábio P. SelleraComments to Author 
Author affiliations: Universidade de São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil

Suggested citation for this article

Dermatophyte [dur′mə-to-fit′′]

From the Greek derma (skin) + phyton (plant), dermatophytes are a group of 3 genera of filamentous fungi (Microsporum, Epidermophyton, and Trichophyton) that have the ability to invade keratinized tissues and cause superficial infections in humans and animals. Dermatophytes were improperly assigned to the Plantae kingdom until 1969, when they were then classified into the Fungi kingdom.

Dermatophytosis is also referred to as ringworm or tinea (Latin for “worm”) because it can cause ring-shaped patches that are usually red, itchy, and have worm-like borders. In 1910, Raymond Jacques Adrien Sabouraud, a French dermatologist, was the first to report the morphologic characteristics of dermatophytes. During the decades that followed, taxonomy of dermatophytes has gone through revolutionary changes, mostly due to the advent of molecular diagnosis. Although studies performed in the 21st century have resulted in further classification changes and consolidation of new species, debates regarding the taxonomy of dermatophyte agents persist.



  1. Borman  AM, Summerbell  RC. Trichophyton, Microsporum, Epidermophyton, and agents of superficial mycoses. In: Carroll KC, Pfaller MA, Landry ML, McAdam A, Patel R, Richter SS, et al., editors. Manual of clinical microbiology. Vol. 2, 12th ed. Washington: ASM Press; 2019. p. 2208–33.
  2. de Hoog  GS, Dukik  K, Monod  M, Packeu  A, Stubbe  D, Hendrickx  M, et al. Toward a novel multilocus phylogenetic taxonomy for the dermatophytes. Mycopathologia. 2017;182:531. DOIPubMed
  3. Sabouraud  R. The moths [in French]. Paris: Masson; 1910.
  4. Whittaker  RH. New concepts of kingdoms or organisms. Evolutionary relations are better represented by new classifications than by the traditional two kingdoms. Science. 1969;163:15060. DOIPubMed


Suggested citation for this article: Santana AE, Sellera FP. Etymologia: Dermatophyte. Emerg Infect Dis. 2020 Sep [date cited].

DOI: 10.3201/eid2609.et2609

Original Publication Date: June 24, 2020

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Table of Contents – Volume 26, Number 9—September 2020


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Fábio P. Sellera, Department of Internal Medicine, School of Veterinary Medicine and Animal Science, Universidade de São Paulo, São Paulo SP- 05508-270, Brazil

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Page created: June 24, 2020
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