What’s chromoblastomycosis?

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Chromoblastomycosis is a chronic fungal infection that causes wart-like nodules, papillomas, and ulcerated lesions. It is usually found near a wound or trauma to the lower limbs and can spread to subcutaneous tissue. Treatment includes antifungal drugs and surgery. The condition is rarely fatal.

Also called Fonseca’s disease, pheosporotrichosis, and Pedroso’s disease, the skin disease known as chromoblastomycosis is a chronic fungal infection that can affect both visible areas of the body and subcutaneous tissue. The disease initially tends to develop near a wound or other type of trauma to the lower limbs. The condition is known for its ability to cause the growth of large wart-like nodules, papillomas, and ulcerated lesions that can eventually spread and intensify. Chromoblastomycosis is almost never fatal, but it is often quite stubborn in the face of treatment and may require significant surgery and medication.

Symptoms of chromoblastomycosis include the initial presentation and subsequent spread of growths that may resemble cauliflower in appearance. Manifestations of the disease may initially take the form of smaller, reddish lesions that eventually progress to become much more noticeable in nature. Many years often elapse between the initial skin trauma and the onset of more serious infections, and it is common for the inciting lesion to be forgotten by the patient due to its relative insignificance at the time of onset. Once the condition becomes apparent, significant complications can develop, resulting in the need for more aggressive medical treatment.

Advanced cases of chromoblastomycosis have the potential for relatively serious complications. In most cases, this type of infection does not progress beyond the area of ​​the initial skin trauma. More difficult presentations of this disorder can emerge when the fungal infection spreads to the patient’s blood and lymphatic systems, resulting in more swelling of the limbs and possible secondary infections. Elephantitis and necrosis are additional complications seen in more advanced cases of chromoblastomycosis and will require additional treatment modalities. On rare occasions, lesions caused by this type of infection have mutated into squamous cell carcinoma, a malignant form of skin cancer.

Typical drug treatments for chromoblastomycosis include the administration of antifungal azoles, often in combination with flucytosine. In cases where a secondary bacterial infection has occurred, antibiotics will be prescribed. Surgeries for this condition include targeted excision of skin lesions and cryosurgery techniques that use cold liquid nitrogen to destroy affected tissue. With appropriate treatment, patients with chromoblastomycosis enjoy a good prognosis, particularly in cases characterized by smaller, more localized infections. Even in advanced cases where obvious physical scarring has occurred, the condition is almost always manageable, and cases of death or incapacity resulting from infection are extraordinarily rare.

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