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Malassezia furfur

STRUCTURE AND PHYSIOLOGY

M. furfur is a spherical-shaped yeast with a distinct bottlenose at the end. This commensal, lipophilic fungi is generally single-celled but may form hyphae upon infection, an atypical characteristic of most Malassezia species.

TRANSMISSION AND DISEASE

M. furfur is unable to synthesize fatty acids by itself and must utilize the oils produced by humans, resulting in it composing over 80% of the fungal population of the skin. This microorganism is not typically harmful to humans but can act opportunistically, causing severe systematic and cutaneous infections in the immunocompromised.

DISINFECTION

Although a yeast, M. furfur does not survive off the skin (or other appropriate fatty acid source) for extended periods of time. Dandruff, commonly caused by M. furfur, is often treated with zinc pyrithione, and antifungals or corticosteroids can be used for the treatment of topical infections.

NOTES

M. furfur prefers to reside in areas of the skin rich in sebaceous glands, such as the face and scalp. Lesions caused by this microorganism may vary in color and shape, so microscopic analysis is used to confirm the diagnosis.

REFERENCE(S)

Gaitanis, G., Magiatis, P., Hantschke, M., Bassukas, I. D., & Velegraki, A. (2012). The Malassezia genus in skin and systemic diseases. Clinical microbiology reviews, 25(1), 106–141.

Vest BE, Krauland K. Malassezia Furfur. [Updated 2022 May 15]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK553091/

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