Tinea Capitis Facts and Treatment

Tinea capitis (tin'-eah cap'-ih-tiss) is an infection of the scalp with a fungus (Tricophyton tonsurans). It is, in point of fact, the most common fungal infection in children. Some children may develop an allergic reaction to the fungus that causes a large, boggy, oozing sore called a kerion (as in carry-on, nurse). It is common in parts of Africa and India.

In Southeast Asia, the rate of infection has been reported to have decreased dramatically from 14% (average of male and female children) to 1.2In most cases, the disease is transferred by way of contact with animals (eg dogs, cats, cows, hamsters and guinea pigs). Most mammals have a skin fungus with which they live in peaceful coexistence, without any symptoms for the animal, but the fungus can be transferred to humans. Causes Tinea capitis (also called ringworm of the scalp) is a skin disorder that usually affects only children. It can be persistent and contagious, however, it often disappears spontaneously at puberty.

The fungi that cause tinea infections thrive in warm, moist areas. You have an increased risk for tinea infection if you have poor hygiene, prolonged wetness of the skin (such as from sweating), and minor skin or scalp injuries. Symptoms # Those affected generally have patchy areas of hair loss. The hair is usually weak and breaks in the middle. # The scalp is often red, itchy, and scaly in the area of the hair loss. # Sometimes there may be little bumps filled with pus.

Tinea Capitis Treatment Tinea capitis requires treatment with an oral antifungal agent. Griseofulvin is probably the most effective agent for infection with Microsporum canis, but is no longer available in New Zealand. Scalp Trichophyton infections may successfully be eradicated using oral terbinafine, itraconazole or fluconazole for 4 to 6 weeks. However, these medications are not always successful and it may be necessary to try another agent.

Intermittent treatment may also be prescribed e.g. once weekly dosages.

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