Pronounced: Tee-nee-uh Ni-gra
Tinea nigra is an infection of the skin. It affects the outermost layer of skin. The infection will cause a black or brown patch on the skin. Except for the dark patch, tinea nigra is a harmless condition.
Tinea nigra usually affect the palms of the hands or soles of the feet. It may also appear on the neck or trunk.
Cross-Section of Skin
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Tinea nigra is caused by a fungus. The type of fungus that causes this infection is most often found in rotting wood, soil, compost, or sewage. The fungus may enter your body through a break in your skin.
You are more likely to develop tinea nigra if you have been living or traveling in tropical or subtropical areas, such as:
Tinea nigra causes a brownish-black patch on the skin that:
A tinea nigra patch may be mistaken for a type of skin cancer. Talk to your doctor about any skin growth or changes.
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. You may need to see a skin specialist for tests, diagnosis, and treatment.
Tinea nigra is diagnosed by scraping a small sample of the affected skin. The sample is examined under a microscope.
Tinea nigra is usually treated with an antifungal medication. The medication is placed on the skin as creams or ointments.
To help reduce your chance of tinea nigra:
American Academy of Dermatology
The College of Family Physicians of Canada
Gupta AK. Tinea corporis, tinea cruris, tinea nigra, and piedra. Dermatol Clin. 2003;21:395-400.
Habif TP. Clinical Dermatology. 4th ed. St. Louis: Mosby; 2004.
Mandel GL, Bennett JE, et al. (eds). Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier, Inc.; 2005.
Tropical travel. American Academy of Dermatology website. Available at:
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Accessed December 7, 2012.
Last reviewed October 2014 by David L Horn, MD, FACP
Last Updated: 1/13/2014