Tinea capitis is a condition characterized by a fungal infection that affects the scalp, eyebrows, and eyelashes. It is also known as ringworm of the scalp.
Tinea capitis presents with the following signs and symptoms :
In many instances, there is permanent hair loss and scars. Affected individuals can also suffer from low grade fever. Swollen lymph node is yet another important marker in individuals with tinea capitis.
A preliminary careful visual examination of the scalp and a history of symptoms experienced, often provide a useful insight in the diagnosis of tinea capitis. Sometimes this is enough for diagnosing the condition. However, when appropriate diagnosis cannot be made clinically, then certain additional swab tests may also be required. These would include swab samples of the scalp, hair and scrapings from the scaly skin. These samples would be sent for culture which may take 3 weeks for the results to arrive . In rare cases, skin biopsy would be necessary.
Antifungal medications are primarily the most effective regime for treating tinea capitis. These medications include lamisil and griseofulvin. The duration of the medications would depend on the severity of the condition .
In addition to administration of oral medications, a medicated shampoo may also be given to wash the scalp. This would help prevent spread of the infection to other parts of the body as well as to other individuals. The prescription-strength medicated shampoo also helps in destroying the fungal spores on the scalp .
Individuals who use the medicated shampoo for washing their hair should ensure that their towels be washed in warm and soapy water. It is also necessary that the combs and brushes be soaked in a mixture of bleach and water for 1 hour at least for 3 days. These steps would prevent the infection from spreading.
In many cases, tinea capitis gets corrected on its own when the child reaches puberty. However, in some cases, the condition can come back even after it has been promptly treated. Certain percentages of affected individuals also suffer from permanent hair loss accompanied by development of scars .
Fungal infection is the major and the only cause of tinea capitis. The variety of fungi that can cause tinea capitis are known as dermatophytes. They are a type of mold like fungi which significantly affects the outer layer of the scalp. Warm and moist areas are favorable areas for the growth of fungi.
Tinea capitis can spread from human to human contact and through pets such as cats and dogs. Sharing objects like combs, towels, brushes and bed linens of the infected persons can also spread the infection .
The incidence of tinea capitis is not correctly known. This is so because such a type of contagious disease is no longer registered by public health agencies. The condition is prevalent in areas such as Central, North and South America and Afro-Carribbean extraction. Tinea capitis is also common in India and Africa. Both boys and girls are equally affected by the condition. However, when tinea capitis affects the adult population, women are more prone to develop it .
The condition of tinea capitis is caused by the fungi species belonging to the genus Tricophyton and Microsporum. These mold like fungi are present in the noncornified layer, which are even capable of invading the internal layers. Children are the most affected group; the reason being the normal microflora of the scalp of which Pityrosporum ovale forms an essential part.
Tinea capitis is classified into 3 groups based on the manner in which the fungi invade the hair shaft. These include ectothrix, endothrix infection and favus. In the first 2 types, the arthroconidia develops on the exterior and interior of the hair shaft respectively. In the third type, there is development of crusts along with hair loss .
Preventing tinea capitis is not easy as the causative organism is widespread in nature and is highly contagious. However, the following can be done to prevent its spread :
Tinea capitis is a highly infectious disease which spreads by contact and is common amongst toddlers and school going children. The disorder is a type of dermatophytosis and infections of this kind are common across the globe. The follicles and hair shafts of the individuals are severely affected by the fungal infection. Inflammation accompanied by scarring and permanent hair loss are some of the common symptoms .