"Mycetoma" redirects here. For the bacterial disease formerly known as "actinomycetoma", see Actinomycosis.

Eumycetoma is a chronic granulomatous fungal disease of humans, affecting mainly the limbs, and sometimes the abdominal and chest walls or the head. Mycetoma pedis (mycetoma of the foot), the most common form of mycetoma, is known widely as the Madura foot. The infection is endemic in Africa, India and the Central and South Americas.

Signs and symptoms

The initial lesion is a small subcutaneous swelling following minor trauma. Later, sinuses that discharge purulent and seropurulent exudates containing grains which are fungal colonies are formed. Destruction of deeper tissues, and deformity and loss of function in the affected limbs may occur in late stages.


Mycetoma may be caused by Actinomycetes, which are considered as transitional forms between bacteria and fungi, or by true fungi (Eumycetes) where it is called Eumycetoma. Bacterial and true fungal species that can cause mycetoma are listed below under their characteristic colours of discharge from infected wounds:

Red discharge

  • Actinomadura pelletieri

White or Yellow discharge

  • Acremonium strictum
  • Actinomadura madurae
  • Aspergillus nidulans
  • Noetestudina rosatii
  • Phaeoacremonium krajdenii
  • Pseudallescheria boydii

Black discharge

  • Aspergillus terreus
  • Curvularia lunata
  • Cladophialophora bantiana
  • Exophiala jeanselmei
  • Leptosphaeria senegalensis
  • Leptosphaeria tompkinsii
  • Madurella grisea
  • Madurella mycetomatis
  • Pyrenochaeta romeroi

Some species of the bacterial genus Nocardia (including Nocardia asteroides and Nocardia brasiliensis) which can cause mycetoma produce an yellow coloured discharge, and those of the bacterial genus Streptomyces (including Streptomcyes somaliensis) produce an yellow or red coloured discharge.


The disease is usually seen in field workers like farmers, and generally affects men between 20 and 40 years. The disease is acquired by inoculation of grains of fungal spores from the soil through a breach in the skin produced by minor trauma like a thorn prick. The disease then spreads to deeper tissues and also forms sinus tracts leading to skin surface. Mature lesions are characterised by a grainy discharge from these sinuses. These discharges contain fungal colonies and are infective. Spread of infection internally through blood or lymph is uncommon.

Infections that produce a black discharge mainly spread subcutaneously. In the red and yellow varieties deep spread occurs early, infiltrating muscles and bones but sparing nerves and tendons, which are highly resistant to the invasion.

Botryomycosis, also known as bacterial pseudomycosis, produces a similar clinical picture and is caused usually by Staphylococcus aureus. Other bacteria may also cause botryomycosis.


Diagnosis of mycetoma is usually established clinically in endemic areas. Cytology of fine needle aspirate or pus from the lesion, and tissue biopsy may be undertaken sometimes. X rays and ultrasonography may be employed in evaluating the extent of the disease.

Differential diagnosis

The following clinical conditions may be considered before diagnosing a patient with mycetoma:

  1. Tuberculous ulcer
  2. Kaposi's sarcoma, a vascular tumour of skin usually seen in AIDS.
  3. Tropical ulcer
  4. Botryomycosis, a skin infection usually caused by the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus.


No vaccine is available. Simple hygienic precautions like wearing shoes or sandals while working in fields, and washing hands and feet at regular intervals may help prevent the disease.


Drugs like ketoconazole, voriconazole, and itraconazole are generally employed in treating the infection. Actinomycetes usually respond well to medical treatment, but the eumycetes are generally resistant and may require surgical interventions including amputation.


The disease is endemic in tropical and subtropical regions. The exact incidence and geographical distribution of mycetoma throughout the world is not known as the disease is usually painless, slowly progressive and presented to health centres only in late stages by majority of patients. Mycetoma has an uneven worldwide distribution.


Madura foot or maduromycosis or maduramycosis, is described in ancient writings of India as Padavalmika, which, translated means Foot anthill. The first modern description of Madura foot was made in 1842 from Madurai (the city after which the disease was named Maduramycosis) in India, by Gill. The fungal etiology of the disease was established in 1860 by Carter.


External links

  • Centraalbureau voor Schimmelcultures/The Fungus Research Center Fungal Biodiversity Center
  • DermNet fungal/mycetoma
  • DermAtlas 336868008


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