They are nasty: they are itching, they scale, inflame, hurt and really do not look nice – fungal skin and nail infections! And not only the therapy may turn into a test of patience, if it, as it happens so often, requires application for several months. Also diagnosis of infection and identification of the pathogen may take up to 6 weeks using the conventional culturing methods – a long time of uncertainty for the patients. About 20 to 25% of the worldwide population suffers from a fungal infection of the skin, hair or nails, a so-called dermatomycosis, which is consequently one of the most frequent infection diseases. To limit the bother and torment for the patient and quickly start with an efficient treatment, the physician or dermatologist needs to know exactly which pathogen he is actually dealing with. Causative agents of dermatomycoses are commonly dermatophytes, in rare cases yeasts or moulds. According to their major host and the source of infection, dermatophytes are divided in anthropophilic (human source of infection), zoophilic (animal source of infection) and geophilic (soil as source of infection) species.
Diagnostics of fungal skin infections
Conventional laboratory diagnostics of dermatomycoses include pathogen detection via culturing and/or morphological identification of the fungus at the microscope. However, this procedure requires lots of patience and expertise and still is rather prone to uncertain or wrong findings. Especially in mixed infections, slowly growing species may be overgrown and overlooked. Also bacterial infections of the injured skin, ongoing treatments with corticosteroid-containing compounds or secondary contact allergies can hamper the diagnostics of fungal nail and skin infections. The novel EUROArray Dermatomycosis now enables direct detection of the clinically most relevant dermatophytes, yeasts and moulds by means of their genetic material, within only 3 hours. In a single test, 50 different dermatophytes are registered and at the same time, 23 dermatophytes as well as 6 yeasts and moulds are clearly identified at the species level – even in cases of pathogens which are difficult to culture, mixed infections or already treated dermatomycoses. Ready-to-use reagents and the small number of required pipetting steps ensure a minimal work load. The evaluation and interpretation of results as well as the archiving of data occur fully automatically and according to objective criteria by means of the EUROArrayScanner and the corresponding EUROArrayScan software. In-depth knowledge of molecular biology is not necessary to perform this test. The prompt and unambiguous test result eventually provides the basis for a timely identification of the pathogen and also the source of infection. In this way, an efficient therapy targeted to this specific pathogen can be started.