by Sam Malone

Sporotrichosis is a skin infection caused by a fungus; it is a long-term infection. It is caused by sporothrix schenckii. This fungus is commonly found in plants, soil, hay, and sphagnum moss. It is also known as rose gardener’s disease. It is termed so because roses often trigger this infection. It often affects the skin, and rarely affects the lungs, bones, joints, and even the brain. Sporotrichosis affects farmers, agricultural workers, horticulturists, plant nursery workers, and rose gardeners. The infection manifests when fungus infects broken skin or through small cuts or punctures during the handling of plant materials like briars, barbs, rosebushes, or mulch. People with a weak immune system are more vulnerable to sporotrichosis and often display severe symptoms. Sporotrichosis develops slowly in a person, it roughly takes one to twelve weeks for the symptoms to appear after the initial exposure to the fungus.

Signs and Symptoms

The first sign of sporotrichosis is usually a small red lump that is painless; soon the infection sets in, with nodular lesions or bumps appearing all over on the skin. They are initially small and red, pink or purple in color. They often occur in the fingers, hands, arms, or legs, as those are the most exposed parts of body. The bumps resemble boils, and the lesions look like open sores. They take a long time to heal. In fact, the sores do not heal unless treated and may remain for years. The nodules may drain pus from time to time. The infection spreads as the fungus follows the lymphatic channels in the body. If the spores are inhaled the infection can affect the lungs, causing coughing, and may lead to pneumonia or tuberculosis. The infection can spread to other sites in the body causing critical conditions, affecting the bones and joints and the central nervous system and the brain.


The diagnosis of the infection is done by removing the affected tissue and studying it under a microscope. Cultures are done to classify the fungus.


The treatment of sporotrichosis is usually done with an antifungal medicine called itraconazole. It is taken orally for about two to four weeks after the lesions are cleared. The medication may need to be taken for three to six months for healing. Another medication that can be used is terbinafine. Amphotercin B or itraconazole is used of infection that has spread through various parts of the body. The treatment for wider infection can go up to 12 months. Persistent and patient treatment is required to heal the infection completely.

In cases of chronic conditions, when there is infection in the bones and cavitary nodules in the lungs, surgery may be recommended.


The complication levels of the infection vary in persons with normal immune system and those who are immune-suppressed. In normal persons, there is discomfort and secondary skin infections like strep or straph may occur. In persons with weak immune system, arthritis, bone infections, lung and breathing problems, meningitis, widespread or disseminated disease, or face complications from use of medication may result. In some, the use amphotericin may lead to serious side effects.


Prevention of sporotrichosis can be done by wearing long sleeves and thick gloves that will avoid direct contact with plants, thorns, and other possible sources infection such as hay bales, soil, pine seedlings, sphagnum moss, and rose bushes.

Call the Doctor

If the skin lesions, lumps or skin ulcers are persistent, it is important to contact your health provider. If you are someone whose occupation involves handling of plants or if you have been exposed to vegetation, it is essential that you mention it to the doctor.


  1. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0002314/
  2. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001338.htm

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