Trichomycosis: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment

trichomycosis def

It refers to a disease that affects the hair shaft in sweat gland-bearing areas.

Trichomycosis, also known as Trichobacteriosis, is a term used to describe a bacterial infection of the hair caused by microorganisms called Corynebacterium.

Corynebacterium refers to a variable group of gram-positive and aerobic bacteria usually found in some animals’ skin and even feces, as well as some vegetables and fruits.

Most people typically delimit the area of effect of Thrichomycosis to the axillary region (Lepothrix). However, this condition can also affect the pubis.

When the area of effect of the disease focuses on the axilla, people call it Trichomycosis Axillaris or Trichobacteriosis Axillaris, but if this condition affects the pubic region doctors define it as Trichomycosis Pubis.

In some odd cases, this disease can even affect the hair of the head and the rectal area.

The term “Trichomycosis” is somewhat misleading, and there’s a good reason for that.

At first, people thought a fungus caused this condition, but when experts discovered the cause was a bacterial infection, they choose to use the term “Trichobacteriosis” instead.

For that very same reason, from this point on, the article will refer to this condition by using the same term.

This infection can affect every kind of people no matter the age, ethnicity, or gender. However, some doctors claim that women are less likely to have Trichobacteriosis.

Trichomycosis Causes

The microorganism associated with the development of Trichobacteriosis is Corynebacterium tenuis, also known as Corynebacterium Flavescens.

This bacteria grows in warm and moist microenvironments. And some experts suggest that 33% of the adult population already have such organisms in the inguinal or axillary areas of their bodies.

However, poor hygiene habits could likely increase the risk of developing this condition.

Such factor combined with hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating) could lead to the extensive proliferation of the Corynebacterium, which would result in the clinical manifestation of Trichobacteriosis.

Researchers are not entirely sure about what triggers the growth of the bacteria, but medical experts think factors such as obesity and poor hygiene are related to the disease.


The clinical manifestation of this condition is easy to miss. At first glance, Trichobacteriosis seem to be asymptomatic, but there are some signs typical to this disease. Some usual symptoms include:

  • Excessive sweating along with a foul odor coming from the affected area
  • Yellow, red, or black solid mass that encompasses the hair shaft, which makes it look thicker than it is
  • The sweat from the affected area may appear discolored featuring a yellowish, reddish, or blackish color instead
  • Hair loss (in some cases) due to the proliferation of the bacteria in the affected area


When it comes to Trichobacteriosis Axillaris, through a physical exam, healthcare providers will try to confirm with a Wood’s lamp the presence of fluorescent odd-colored sweat.

Wood’s lamp uses transillumination to detect bacterial infections on the skin as well as some other disorders and irregularities.

Medical experts will check nodules on the hair shaft. If they find gram stain in the affected area, they can confirm the proliferation of the bacteria on the skin.

Doctors can also perform a microscopic exam and look for irregularities in a sample of tissue taken from the affected area.

Trichomycosis Treatment

Some people suggest that shaving the affected area is enough to solve the problem. However, there is a couple of therapies that can cure this condition.

After doctors confirmed the presence of Trichobacteriosis, they can prescribe topical antibiotics for their patients.

Medical experts suggest Clindamycin gel or lotion, which is a medication that stops the growth of bacteria. Another choice could be Erythromycin, a macrolide antibiotic, in the form of a topical cream.

More often than not, patients would need to apply these lotions over the affected area two times per day for up to two weeks.

If patients do not respond to a therapy based on topical antibiotics, healthcare providers would probably prescribe pills, more specifically Erythromycin.

Along with such treatments, medical experts advise patients to maintain proper hygiene.

Such measures along with the use of antibiotics help people to prevent the bacterial infection from getting worst and gradually eliminate the cause of their condition.

These measures are pretty straightforward; they include washing the affected area every day with soap and water and even using talc-free drying powders to reduce the moisture that helps bacteria to proliferate.

Patients should also use antiperspirant, which helps to reduce the production of sweat in the axillary region.