Fungus/fungal infection from playing guitar theory

Hi guys, now please don’t let the title put you off. I’m posting this for my benefit and potentially yours. My question to you guys is this…do you live in a tropical and/or humid area and have formed a skin brownish pigment mark on your left palm? (being that most players are right-handed) I’ve been living in tropical far north Queensland for just over 3 years and have been practising the guitar more regularly now for around 6-8 months. This is around about the time my Tinea Nigra (I hope it is that) started appearing on my left palm. I had it checked just over a week ago and the doctor suspected skin cancer ( I was so close to having the biopsy) but with further investigation, he concluded that it was probably a fungal infection and prescribed me some Kenacomb ointment. I’ve been dabbing it on now for nearly a week but no real change. It may need some persistence on my part. Now, I really do believe that playing the guitar up here in this climate is linked to the fungus on my left hand. Do you or have you heard of this happening to others? I might Google it.

The key point here, I think, is that you’ve been to your doctor and had your hand examined. If things don’t improve get straight back to him/her.

I certainly wouldn’t rely on the medical opinions of members of a guitar forum! :smiley:

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Never encountered anything like this being discussed before, either here or the old forum during my time there since early 2014.

If its a fungus off the guitar neck, I am surprised its not on both hands. The reason I say that is, as a right handed player, although I fret with my left, I invariably pick the guitar up with my right hand and do likewise putting it/them back in the rack. So if the guitar is the source why only one hand ? But hey that’s just my logical mind working.

As Gordon said best stick with the physician. Good luck and I hope it clear up soon.


I wonder if you just get a sweaty palm while fretting?

That might aggravate or make it easier to get something like that.

Maybe make sure to keep a hand towel nearby and dry it occasionally?

Sorry to hear that Grant. Hopefully it resolves soon. A quick search on the web reveals that its not an entirely uncommon phenomena for players of stringed instruments to ocassionally develop skin conditions, reactions, allergies etc to the various metals, woods, and stains contained in stringed instruments. Can’t say I’ve ever known anyone, but apparently it does happen.
On a lighter note, I came across another condition called “Guitarists Nipple” - apparently caused by repeated friction of the acoustic guitar against the players chest. :crazy_face:


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I am not sure I am glad to know that…

Hi, I’m not relying on any medical opinions in this guitar forum. I’m not asking for that. My inquiry was to find out if anybody else had the same thing because I believe (the doctor hinted at this as well) that it could be linked to playing the guitar, fretting hand and that if people from this forum or other people they know developed any of these symptoms especially living in tropical climates then we have more of a solid claim as to the why of this is happening and to also relieve people of their possible anxiety that it’s probably not skin cancer.

That’s some good logic by picking up the guitar neck. The only thing is that just picking up the guitar is very brief compared to the time in which you actually hold the guitar playing. Thank for the reply

Thanks for the info, Shane. It’s an interesting one

Yes, You could be on the right track there, thanks for the advice. It’s probably what I need to do given I’m a nervous starter and all that.

I just wanted to say thank goodness it isn’t cancer. I think the best advice is to practice good hand washing once the infection clears up and stay in touch with your doctor. I am a medical professional here in the USA, although I am not trying to give medical advice. Wash your hands with aseptic technique, meaning use dial soap or equivalent, make a good lather, and rinse hands with the fingers pointed downward. Use a dry towel to turn off the faucet, maybe clean the guitar fretboard with something that won’t ruin the finish. The goal here is to avoid the same thing happening again. Fungus thrives in moist environments .

Good luck


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Appreciate the advice. It’d be interesting to know just how many people in moist environments get this from playing the guitar or anything else where fungus thrives. The image I posted looks very much like what I’ve got but the Kenacomb ointment doesn’t seem to be doing its job so far. Time will tell. I see the Doc in a couple of weeks so hopefully, it’s cleared up by then. He’ll probably want to take a biopsy if it hasn’t cleared. Apparently, the anaesthetic in that area hurts like hell

I’ve never heard of it before.

I’m not a medical professional, but I do understand a little about the subject. I would say there’s no specific reason why playing guitar could initiate a fungal infection other than because it might make your hands sweat.

Fungus is everywhere and it thrives on damp conditions which is why fungal infections of the feet (and, ahem, “other areas”) are common.

So I would say it’s not specifically due to the guitar. It may be due to the amount you use it and your hand-washing and guitar cleaning habits around that. It’s also possible you have a weakened immune response to this type of infection.

Put it this way: it’s just as likely to happen to you from holding your bike handlebars, or a car steering wheel, or a baseball bat or any other object where you hold it for a long time and your hands sweat. In other words, it’s almost certainly not the guitar itself that caused this.

However, whilst the guitar neck may not be the initial cause of the infection, it’s likely it has now got fungal spores on it from your hand, which may cause a re-infection. So you should make sure you clean it after each use until the infection has gone, and possibly as a matter or routine after that.

So, as others have suggested, make sure you clean your guitar neck and wash your hands frequently.

I’ve never seen in mentioned on this, or any other, guitar forum over the last 10 years, which makes me think it’s unlikely to be an issue that is (specifically) related to guitar playing.



Hi there.

I am just checking in to see if the infection cleared up and if all is good. That has to be scary to go through.

Take care and stay healthy


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It turned out that it was just a fungal infection. It’s just starting to disappear more lately with the lotion I was prescribed. I think it had a lot to do with the humidity and maybe not wiping the guitar down and my palm. More sanitary and the tropical conditions I expect are to blame. Thanks for the enquiry


Glad to hear you are okay!