What Is White Piedra?
White Piedra is an extremely rare fungal infection affecting mainly the hair shafts. The fungus responsible for the development of White Piedra is the fungus Trichosporon and the species of this fungus that cause the condition are the T. inkin and T. ovoides.
The areas which are commonly affected by White Piedra are the armpits, pubic hairs, and hairs of the moustache. White Piedra tends to occur in both males and females, but is found to occur more in young males who are more susceptible to being exposed to this fungus.
The fungus causing White Piedra thrives mostly in the humid and temperate climates best seen in the United States in the South and Northeast region of the country. The fungus causing White Piedra is found mostly in soil. There has been no evidence to suggest spread of White Piedra through physical contact.
What Causes White Piedra?
As stated above, the fungus responsible for the development of White Piedra is the Trichosporon fungus. It is found usually in soil. There has been no clear theory as to how it gets transmitted to humans, but it is widely believed that the fungus is already present on the skin of the humans who tend to develop symptoms of White Piedra.
What Are The Symptoms of White Piedra?
Some of the symptoms of White Piedra are:
Pearly white gelatinous nodules which surround the hair shaft typically found in the facial hair and body hair, moustache, beard, armpits, pubic hairs, and hairs on the chest in males. These nodules are generally approximately a millimeter in diameter and can be easily removed from the body.
Additionally, an individual with White Piedra will have extremely brittle hairs especially in the regions mentioned above and the hairs in these areas can break easily. There may also be pain or itching in the areas affected by White Piedra.
How Is White Piedra Diagnosed?
The diagnosis of White Piedra is quite easy as the symptoms described by the patient and an examination of the nodules virtually confirm the diagnosis of White Piedra. Additionally, some physicians may order certain laboratory tests on the fungus, which will help them confirm the diagnosis of White Piedra.
How Is White Piedra Treated?
The best way to treat White Piedra is to shave off all the hair which might be affected by the fungus. Once the hair is gone, then virtually the infection is gone also. Additionally, there are a host of antifungal creams available which can be used for treatment of White Piedra. If topical antifungal creams are not effective then oral antifungal agents can also be used for treatment of White Piedra.
The duration for use of these antifungal medications will not be for more than a couple of weeks for complete eradication of the symptoms of White Piedra. For majority of the cases, White Piedra is a benign condition with virtually no complications, although in some cases it has resulted in loss of hair or brittle hair.
If White Piedra infects an immunocompromised individual then it may lead to intense itching and discomfort and the rash will be pruritic in nature instead of the usual rash seen in individuals with White Piedra.
- Bonifaz, A., & Saúl, A. (2010). Superficial fungal infections. Clinics in Dermatology, 28(2), 197-201 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.clindermatol.2009.12.005
- Chong, H. T., Tan, L. H., Tan, T., & Wong, S. S. (1998). An outbreak of white piedra in Singapore. The British Journal of Dermatology, 139(6), 1076-1079 https://doi.org/10.1046/j.1365-2133.1998.02510.x