Korean J Med Mycol.  2006 Mar;11(1):1-12.

Changing Patterns of Dermatophytosis and Its Causative Agents according to Social and Economic Developments in Korea

  • 1Department of Dermatology, College of Medicine, Yeungnam University, Daegu, Korea. khkim@med.yu.ac.kr


Deramtophytosis is one of common dermatoses and occupied 10~20% of all dermatologic outpatients in Korea. It has close relationship between host (human) and dermatophytes. Their clinical patterns and incidence, and their causative dermatophytes may change with social environments and life patterns; Some dermatophytes may decrease or disappear and others can be imported from other countries. During recent 60 years, GNP has been increased explosively, more than 190 folds, and that economic developments brought abrupt changes of social environments and life patterns in Korea. Furthermore, there had been great social events; Korean War in 1950~1953, the Asian Game in 1986, the Olympic Game in 1988 and the World Cup in 2002. Those events gave much chances for dermatophytes to move and change. Trends of clinical types of dermatophytosis and their causative dermatophytes were evaluated with reported articles during the period. Tinea capitis showed the most dramatic changes. Its incidence was the highest just after Korean war, 24.5% of all primary school students, and decreased abruptly by 26.5% of all dermatophytosis in late 1950s, 4.9% in late 1960s, and 2~4% since 1970s. Microsporum(M.) ferrugineum was the most common isolates till 1970s, and abruptly decreased and now nearly disappeared. Trichophyton(T.) violaceum was isolated in Cheju island. After Korean war, T. schoenleinii was isolated from favus and disappeared. M. canis was isolated for the first time in 1959 and has been the most common isolates from tinea capitis since late 1970s. T. verrucosum was isolated for the first time in 1986 in Kwangju and has been isolated nation-widely. T. tonsurans was isolated for the first time in 1995 in Daegu and spread among wrestlers, Judo players and Korean wrestlers. It might be imported by wrestlers with sport exchanging program. Tinea pedis is the most common dermatophytosis in Korea now. It was 26% of all dermatophytosis in late 1950s, and increased by 40.9~42.2% in 1970s. And tinea unguium has been increased as tinea pedis does; It was 2.8% of all dermatophytosis in late 1950s, and increased by 5.1~14.2% in 1970s, 5.5~15.3% in 1870s and 17% in 1990s. The patiets with tinea pedis have high family infection and also high coexisting dermatophytosis. The most common isolate was T. rubrum, followed by T. mentagrophytes and Epidermophyton floccosum. Tinea cruris was one of dramatically changed dermatophytosis. Its incidence was 5% of all dermatophytosis in 1940s, and increased by 10.2% in late 1950s, and 26.6~39.1% in 1970s. Environments and socioeconomic conditions are changing, and international travel and sports exchanging program are increasing. All those social events may cause new dermatophytes to invade from other countries. We should check it carefully and continuously.


Changing patterns; Dermatophytosis; Causative agents; Social developments

MeSH Terms

Asian Continental Ancestry Group
Korean War
Martial Arts
Skin Diseases
Social Change
Social Environment
Tinea Capitis
Tinea Favosa
Tinea Pedis
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