Chromoblastomycosis (Chromomycosis)- An Overview


Chromoblastomycosis (Chromomycosis) is a long-term fungal infection that affects the skin and the subcutaneous tissue, which is the layer of tissue under the skin. It is also known as a chronic subcutaneous mycosis, which means a persistent fungal infection of the deeper layers of the skin.

The infection is caused by different types of fungi that belong to a group called dematiaceous fungi. These are fungi that have dark pigments in their cell walls, which give them a brown or black color. Some of the common fungi that cause chromoblastomycosis are:

  • Fonsecaea pedrosoi
  • Phialophora verrucosa
  • Cladophialophora carrionii
  • Cladophialophora bantiana
  • Exophiala spp.

These fungi are widely distributed in the environment, especially in soil, wood, and decaying plant material. They are more common in tropical and subtropical regions, where the climate is warm and humid.

The infection usually occurs when the fungi enter the skin through a minor injury, such as a cut or a puncture from a thorn or a splinter. The injury may not be noticed or remembered by the person, as the symptoms may take months or years to appear.

The infection grows slowly and spreads locally, forming raised and crusted lesions on the skin. These lesions may be red, gray, or brown in color, and may have black dots on the surface. The lesions may be single or multiple, and may affect any part of the body, but most often the limbs.

The infection may cause itching, pain, swelling, or ulceration of the affected area. It may also cause complications such as secondary bacterial infection, lymphatic obstruction, elephantiasis (enlargement of the limb), squamous cell carcinoma (a type of skin cancer), or spread to other organs through the blood or lymph vessels.

Chromoblastomycosis is not a life-threatening condition, but it can be very difficult to cure and may cause disability and disfigurement. The treatment options include antifungal medications (such as itraconazole, terbinafine, or voriconazole), surgery, heat therapy, cryotherapy (freezing), laser therapy, or photodynamic therapy (using light and a photosensitizing agent). The treatment may last for months or years, and may need to be combined or repeated.

The prevention of chromoblastomycosis involves avoiding contact with soil, wood, or plant material that may contain the fungi, especially in areas where the infection is common. Wearing protective clothing such as gloves, shoes, and long sleeves may help prevent injuries that may allow the fungi to enter the skin. Seeking medical attention for any suspicious skin lesions may help diagnose and treat the infection early.