Invasive fungal dermatitis in the ≤1000-gram neonate

J. L. Rowen, J. T. Atkins, M. L. Levy, S. C. Baer, C. J. Baker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

122 Scopus citations


Objective. In 1991, we noted the emergence amongst our extremely low birth weight neonates of a new clinical entity, invasive fungal dermatitis, characterized by erosive, crusting lesions and a high rate of subsequent systemic fungal infection. We sought to define this condition and examine potential risk factors. Methods. Sixteen neonates with invasive fungal dermatitis were seen during a 2-year period in three Baylor College of Medicine affiliated intensive care nurseries. Seven were confirmed cases, with skin biopsy evidence of invasion beyond the stratum corneum. Nine had a consistent clinical course and a positive potassium hydroxide examination of skin scrapings or isolation of fungi from skin or systemic cultures. Three controls were matched to each case by hospital, date of admission, and birth weight. Data was collected by retrospective chart review. Results. Invasive fungal dermatitis occurred in 5.9% of at-risk infants. Case patients had a mean birth weight of 635 g and developed skin lesions at a mean age of 9 days (range, 6 to 14). Candida albicans was the most commonly implicated pathogen, but other Candida species, Aspergillus, Trichosporon beigelii, and Curvularia were also seen. Disseminated infection occurred in 69%, all due to Candida sp. Case patients were significantly more premature than controls (mean gestation, 24.4 vs 25.9 weeks) and were more likely to be delivered vaginally (81% vs 50%). Postnatal steroids were administered to cases (81%) more often than controls (46%). Case patients had more prolonged hyperglycemia (as assessed by insulin administration) than controls (mean 4.3 vs 2.0 days). Conclusions. Invasive fungal dermatitis is a disease of the smallest, most immature neonates and is associated with vaginal birth, steroid administration, and hyperglycemia. We speculate that the skin serves as a portal of entry for colonizing fungal species and may thus lead to disseminated infection. Methods to improve skin barrier function may be useful in preventing this disorder.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)682-687
Number of pages6
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1995
Externally publishedYes


  • Aspergillus
  • Candida
  • Curvularia
  • Trichosporon
  • invasive fungal dermatitis
  • lesions
  • neonates
  • skin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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