Background: Dermatophytosis constitutes a major public health problem in different countries. The most common factors affecting the distribution and transmission of dermatophyte infections are climatic conditions, general hygiene, and animal contact. In Egypt, the prevalence of dermatophytosis has not been well clarified. Several antifungal agents are available to manage these infections but drug resistance, severe side effects and its very poor penetration can result in treatment failure. Objectives: This study aimed to detect the prevalence of dermatophyte infections in Assuit University Hospital and to screen for anti-dermatophytic activity of some plant essential oils to discover their medicinal potential for future applications as antifungal agents. Methodology: Samples were collected from 50 patients attending dermatology clinic at Assuit University Hospital and clinically diagnosed as tinea infections. Isolation and laboratory identification of dermatophytes were performed by direct microscopic examination, Sabouraud,s dextrose agar and rice grains medium culture. Extracellular enzymatic activities (urease, lipase and protease) were tested. Some natural oils (dill seed, garlic, ginger, nigella seed, olive, peppermint and riccinus) were screened for their antidermatophytic activities by disc diffusion methods. Result: Dermatophytosis was diagnosed in 40 (80%) of all patients examined, the prevalence of dermatophytosis in male (57.5%) was higher than in female (42.5%), the most common dermatophyte infection diagnosed was tinea capitis (65%), followed by tinea pedis (17.5%). Four species belonging to two genera were identified, 20 (50%) T. violaceum, 14 (35%) M. canis, 3 (7.5%) T. mentagrophytes and 3 (7.5%) T. rubrum. All tested oils have dermatophytic activities except dill and olive oils. Nigella oil was the most active against growth of T. mentagrophytes and T. rubrum. Ginger oil was the most active against T. violaceum and M. canis. Garlic and ginger oils had active effect against T. rubrum. Conclusion: Nigella, ginger and garlic oils had proved a promising effectiveness against dermatophytes and can be used in the development of new anti-dermatophytic preparations.
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