Tinea barbae is also known as barber’s itch because it was mainly transmitted during shaving with shared razors by barbers and the resulting skin rash is itchy. The type of fungi that causes this infection is known as dermatophytes. These fungi are very common and distributed throughout the globe. It is the same type of fungi that causes jock itch (tinea cruris), a fungal infection of the groin, and athlete’s foot (tinea pedis), a fungal infection of the foot.
Dermatophytes have specialized enzymes that can digest keratin, the protein that makes the outer lying layers of skin tough. Hair and nails are also composed of keratin. Dermatophyte infections are usually superficial meaning that it does not extend beyond the outermost layer of the skin. However, there may be severe reactions at the site as the body responds to the presence of the fungi and a secondary bacterial infection may occur as well.