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Epidermophyton spp.
Link ex Steudel, 1824

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Taxonomic Classification

Kingdom: Fungi
Phylum: Ascomycota
Class: Euascomycetes
Order: Onygenales
Family: Arthrodermataceae
Genus: Epidermophyton

Description and Natural Habitats

Epidermophyton is a filamentous fungus and one of the three fungal genera classified as dermatophytes. It is distributed worldwide. Man is the primary host of Epidermophyton floccosum, the only species which is pathogenic. The natural habitat of the related but the nonpathogenic species Epidermophyton stockdaleae is soil [529, 1295, 2202].


The genus Epidermophyton contains two species; Epidermophyton floccosum and Epidermophyton stockdaleae. E. stockdaleae is known to be nonpathogenic, leaving E. floccosum as the only species causing infections in humans.

Pathogenicity and Clinical Significance

E. floccosum is one of the common causes of dermatophytosis in otherwise healthy individuals. It infects skin (tinea corporis, tinea cruris, tinea pedis) and nails (onychomycosis). The infection is restricted to the nonliving cornified layers of epidermis since the fungus lacks the ability to penetrate the viable tissues of the immunocompetent host [57, 1679, 2400]. Disseminated infections due to any of the dermatophytes are very unlikely due to the restriction of the infection to keratinized tissues. However, invasive E. floccosum infection has been reported in an immunocompromised patient with Behcet's syndrome [2068]. As with all forms of dermatophytosis, Epidermophyton floccosum infections are communicable and usually transmitted by contact, particularly in common showers and gym facilities.

Macroscopic Features

The colonies of E. floccosum grow moderately rapidly and mature within 10 days. Following incubation at 25 °C on potato dextrose agar, the colonies are brownish yellow to olive gray or khaki from the front. From the reverse, they are orange to brown with an occasional yellow border. The texture is flat and grainy initially and become radially grooved and velvety by aging. The colonies quickly become downy and sterile [531, 1295, 2144, 2202].

Microscopic Features

Septate, hyaline hyphae, macroconidia, and occasionally, chlamydoconidium-like cells are visualized. Microconidia are typically absent. Macroconidia (10-40 x 6-12 µm) are thin walled, 3- to 5- celled, smooth, and clavate-shaped with rounded ends. They are found singly or in clusters. Chlamydoconidium-like cells, as well as arthroconidia, are common in older cultures [531, 1295, 2144, 2202].

Histopathologic Features

See our histopathology page.

Compare to

Microsporum and Trichophyton

Epidermophyton floccosum is differentiated from Microsporum and Trichophyton by the absence of microconidia.

It is differentiated from E. stockdaleae by the aid of some microscopic and physiological features. In contrast to E. stockdaleae, E. floccosum is frequently unable to perforate hair. Macroconidia of E. stockdaleae are longer than those of E. floccosum. In contrast to E. floccosum, E. stockdaleae is tolerant to 7% NaCl.

Laboratory Precautions

No special precautions other than general laboratory precautions are required.


As with the other dermatophytes, in vitro antifungal susceptibility testing methods have not been standardized for E. floccosum. However, there are some reports on in vitro activity of various antifungal drugs. Most of these studies have used the modifications of the NCCLS M 38P methodology documented for conidium forming filamentous fungi [1622]. The results of these studies show that, terbinafine, itraconazole,voriconazole, and ketoconazole generate low MICs and appear active in vitro against E. floccosum. Griseofulvin is less active than these compounds. Among all, fluconazole generates the highest MICs and appears to have the lowest activity [1119, 2307, 2310, 2432]. Amorolfine [1887] and naftifine [1399, 2307, 2310] also exhibit in vitro activity against E. floccosum.

For MICs of various antifungal drugs for E. floccosum, see our susceptibility database.

Terbinafine, itraconazole, and ketoconazole are in common use for current treatment of E. floccosum infections [293, 548, 1003, 2205, 2281].





Onychomycosis due to Epidermophyton floccosum
Epidermophyton floccosum


57. Aman, S., T. S. Haroon, I. Hussain, M. A. Bokhari, and K. Khurshid. 2001. Tinea unguium in Lahore, Pakistan. Med Mycol. 39:177-180.

293. Boonk, W., D. de Geer, E. de Kreek, J. Remme, and B. van Huystee. 1998. Itraconazole in the treatment of tinea corporis and tinea cruris: comparison of two treatment schedules. Mycoses. 41:509-514.

529. De Hoog, G. S., B. Bowman, Y. Graser, G. Haase, M. El Fari, A. Van den Ende, B. Melzer-Krick, and W. A. Untereiner. 1998. Molecular phylogeny and taxonomy of medically important fungi. Med Mycol. 36:52-56.

531. de Hoog, G. S., J. Guarro, J. Gene, and M. J. Figueras. 2000. Atlas of Clinical Fungi, 2nd ed, vol. 1. Centraalbureau voor Schimmelcultures, Utrecht, The Netherlands.

548. Degreef, J. H., and P. R. G. DeDoncker. 1994. Current therapy of dermatophytosis. J Am Acad Dermatol. 31:S25-S30.

1003. Hay, R. J. 2000. Dermatophytosis and other superficial mycoses, p. 2757-2768. In G. L. Mandell, J. E. Bennett, and R. Dolin (ed.), Mandell, Douglas & Bennett's Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases, 5th ed. ed, vol. 2. Churchill Livingstone, London.

1119. Jessup, C. J., N. S. Ryder, and M. A. Ghannoum. 2000. An evaluation of the in vitro activity of terbinafine. Med Mycol. 38:155-159.

1295. Larone, D. H. 1995. Medically Important Fungi - A Guide to Identification, 3rd ed. ASM Press, Washington, D.C.

1399. Macura, A. B. 1993. In vitro susceptibility of dermatophytes to antifungal drugs: a comparison of two methods. Int. J. Dermatol. 32:533-6.

1622. National Committee for Clinical Laboratory Standards. 1998. Reference method for broth dilution antifungal susceptibility testing of conidium-forming filamentous fungi; proposed standard. NCCLS document M38-P. National Committee for Clinical Laboratory Standards, Wayne, Pa.

1679. Ogawa, H., R. C. Summerbell, K. V. Clemons, T. Koga, Y. P. Ran, A. Rashid, P. G. Sohnle, D. A. Stevens, and R. Tsuboi. 1998. Dermatophytes and host defence in cutaneous mycoses. Med Mycol. 36:166-173.

1887. Regli, P., and H. Ferrari. 1989. In vitro action spectrum of a new antifungal agent derived from morpholine: amorolfin. Pathol Biol (Paris).

2068. Seddon, M. E., and M. G. Thomas. 1997. Invasive disease due to Epidermophyton floccosum in an immunocompromised patient with Behçet's Syndrome. Clin Infect Dis. 25:153-154.

2144. St-Germain, G., and R. Summerbell. 1996. Identifying Filamentous Fungi - A Clinical Laboratory Handbook, 1st ed. Star Publishing Company, Belmont, California.

2202. Sutton, D. A., A. W. Fothergill, and M. G. Rinaldi (ed.). 1998. Guide to Clinically Significant Fungi, 1st ed. Williams & Wilkins, Baltimore.

2205. Svejgaard, E. L., F. Brandrup, K. Kragballe, P. O. Larsen, N. K. Veien, M. Holst, B. L. Andersen, A. V. Bro-Jorgensen, J. C. Dahl, G. Frentz, C. Graudal, P. Kamp, N. Kroman, F. S. Larsen, F. Mikkelsen, J. M. Munkvad, J. H. Olafsson, H. Rothenborg, B. Staberg, J. Sondergaard, and H. Thulin. 1997. Oral terbinafine in toenail dermatophytosis. A double-blind, placebo-controlled multicenter study with 12 months' follow-up. Acta Dermato-Venereologica. 77:66-69.

2281. Van Cutsem, J. 1983. The antifungal activity of ketoconazole. Am J Med. 74:9-15.

2307. Venugopal, P. V., and T. V. Venugopal. 1994. Antidermatophytic activity of allylamine derivatives. Indian J Pathol Microbiol. 37:381-8.

2310. Venugopal, P. V., and T. V. Venugopal. 1994. Disk diffusion susceptibility testing of dermatophytes with allylamines. Int. J. Dermatol. 33:730-2.

2400. Weitzman, I., and R. C. Summerbell. 1995. The dermatophytes. Clin Microbiol Rev. 8:240-59.

2432. Wildfeuer, A., H. P. Seidl, I. Paule, and A. Haberreiter. 1998. In vitro evaluation of voriconazole against clinical isolates of yeasts, moulds and dermatophytes in comparison with itraconazole, ketoconazole, amphotericin B and griseofulvin. Mycoses. 41:309-319.

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