What is it?

Sporotrichosis is a skin infection. People who work with plants and soil are most likely to get it. The infection usually begins as a skin bump that looks like an insect bite. Other bumps may appear in a few days or weeks. The bumps grow and turn into boils that break open. With medicine, the infection may be gone within 1 to 6 months.

What causes sporotrichosis?

Sporotrichosis is caused by a germ called a fungus. The fungus lives in soil and on plants, rotting garden material, and wood. The fungus enters your skin through small cuts caused by thorns, splinters, or other sharp objects. Sporotrichosis is not spread from person to person.

Who has a greater chance of getting sporotrichosis?

Many people catch the infection from working with sphagnum moss. Gardeners and greenhouse workers often become infected from handling thorny plants like barberry or rose bushes. People who handle hay bales, and children who play in hay may get this infection. People who work with pine needles and wood have a greater chance of getting the infection.

What are the signs and symptoms of sporotrichosis?

  • The infection may start as a small red, pink, or purple bump, usually on your finger, hand, or arm. Other bumps may appear in a few days or weeks. The bumps may slowly grow and form into boils (pus-filled blisters). The bumps break open and become skin ulcers that heal very slowly.

  • Although rare, the infection may spread to the lungs, joints (where 2 bones join), or nerves. People who have AIDS or low immunity are at higher risk for these types of sporotrichosis infections. Low immunity means that a person's body does not fight infection very well.

How is sporotrichosis diagnosed?

Your caregiver may wipe a cotton swab across a freshly open skin sore. He will do a test to learn if you have sporotrichosis.

How is it treated?

Antifungal medicine may be needed to kill the fungus. A wet, warm washcloth put on the sores may help your sores heal. You may need to go into the hospital if the fungus spreads to other parts of your body.

How can I avoid catching sporotrichosis?

  • Wear long sleeves, long pants, shoes, and gloves when working with plants and soil.

  • Do not let sphagnum moss come into contact with your skin.

  • Wash your hands and arms (and other exposed skin areas) with soap and water after handling plants and soil.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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