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Fungus on Scalp: How to Deal With Tinea Capitis

If you are experiencing a fungus on your scalp, then there is a good chance you have tinea capitis. Tinea capitis is a fungal infection of the scalp that can cause permanent hair loss if not treated.

In this blog post, we will discuss some ways to deal with tinea capitis and get your scalp back to its healthy state. We will also discuss some prevention tips so that you can avoid getting this infection in the first place. So, if you are dealing with a fungus on your scalp, keep reading for helpful information.

What is fungus?

Fungi are a kingdom of usually multicellular eukaryotic organisms that are heterotrophs (cannot create their own food) and have vital roles in ecosystem nutrient cycling. Fungi can sexually reproduce and asexually clone themselves, as well as form symbiotic attachments with plants and bacteria.

What causes fungus on scalp?

The most common cause of it is the fungus Microsporum canis, which is spread by contact with infected animals, such as cats and dogs. The fungus Trichophyton tonsurans is another common cause of tinea capitis and is spread by contact with an infected person.

Scalp fungus develops when infectious fungi are passed to your scalp and hair via other people, animals, or objects. Fungi can be found in almost every setting. When you come into touch with a fungus, it has the ability to migrate to your skin, resulting in skin diseases or other infectious diseases.

What is tinea capitis?

Tinea capitis is an infection of the scalp, brows, and eyelashes caused by a fungus that usually attacks hair shafts and follicles (see the image below). The condition is defined as superficial mycosis or dermatophytosis. Ringworm of the scalp and tinea tonsurans are two alternative names.

Who gets tinea capitis?

Epidemiology Tinea capitis is a common disorder in kids, with cases peaking between the ages of three and seven years old. It may also affect people in their twenties and thirties, especially those who are immunocompromised. Tinea capitis affects people of all ages, although the prevalence of a particular fungus species that causes tinea capitis varies from region to region.

Animal contact, overcrowding in the home, lower socioeconomic status, warm humid climates, and contact sports are some of the factors that put cats at risk. Oral antifungal medications, population movements, and improved sanitary practices have contributed to changing patterns of infection.

Causes of tinea capitis

Tinea capitis is an infection of the scalp caused by dermatophytic molds that may enter keratinized tissue, such as hair and nails. While there are over 40 different species of dermatophytes, only a few are linked to tinea capitis.

Scalp ringworm is an infection that can affect anyone, and it's easily transferred from person to person. You can get tinea capitis by touching someone else's skin. If you use combs, bedding, or other objects that have been handled by an infected individual, you're putting yourself at risk.

Tinea capitis can be contracted by humans and other animals, including cats and dogs. Humans, as well as other animals such as cats and dogs, can spread it. Farm animals like goats, cattle, horses, and pigs are carriers. However, they may not show any symptoms of infection.

How does tinea capitis infection occur?

When the fungus invades the stratum corneum of the scalp, it grows downward into the hair follicle and hair shaft. It typically enters the hair shaft in one of three methods:

1. Ectothrix infection

The fungus grows inside the hair follicle and covers the hair's surface. Fungal spores can be seen on the outside of the hair shaft, while the cuticle is destroyed. M. canis is an ectothrix dermatophyte.

2. Endothrix infection

The dermatophyte grows within the hair shaft and invades it. The hair shaft contains fungal spores, and the cuticle is not damaged. T. tonsurans is an endothrix dermatophyte.

3. Favus infection

T. schoenleinii, which causes a chronic dermatophyte infection characterized by clusters of hyphae at the base of hairs with air pockets in the hair shafts. There is yellow crusting around the hair shaft clinically.

Symptoms of tinea capitis

scalp fungus hair loss

The incubation period for tinea capitis is one to two weeks. The first sign may be a small, itchy, scaling patch on the scalp. The patches enlarge and coalesce, resulting in large areas of scalp and hair loss. Tinea capitis can cause alopecia (diffuse or patchy hair loss), which can be permanent if the infection is not treated early. The hair may break off at the scalp surface, giving the appearance of short, stubbly hair. Bald patches may also develop.

In dark-skinned individuals, tinea capitis often causes a brown or black discoloration of the skin (hyperpigmentation). In light-skinned individuals, the skin may become red and inflamed (erythema). Severe inflammatory tinea capitis may result in areas of permanent alopecia.

How is tinea capitis diagnosed?

Following are the methods to diagnose tinea capitis:

1. Wood lamp

Hair fluorescence is suggestive of a hair lamp examination when fungi such as Microsporum spp. cause infected hairs to fluoresce brightly green. Tinea capitis caused by Microsporum species (M.ferruginium, audouinii, canis, and distorum) exhibits bright green illumination from the affected hair.

By examining the hair surface, you may be able to determine whether or not it has been infected. In nonfluorescent endothrix trichophyton infection, wood lamp exam is useless except in T. schoenleinii, which can fluoresce a dim grey-green.

2. Dermoscopy 

Dermoscopy is a quick and painless technique for detecting tinea capitis that allows for treatment to begin while awaiting culture results.

Dermoscopic findings characteristic of tinea capitis with a high predictive value but not seen in every case include:

  • Comma hairs (short hairs that bend and grow back toward the scalp, looking like a comma)

  • Corkscrew hair (coiled up like a corkscrew)

  • zigzag hairs (hairs with several bends in them, like a zigzag pattern)

  • Hairs that resemble barcodes (Morse code-like)

  • Bent hairs.

The following are some of the most frequent indications on dermoscopy of tinea capitis that are not diagnostic:

  • Scale, follicular keratosis, and crusts

  • Erythema

  • Broken hairs

  • Black dots.

3. Microscopy

The microscopic examination of scalp scrapings or plucked hairs can verify the presence of tinea capitis. Specimens are wet-mounted in potassium hydroxide and examined under a light microscope for hyphae and spores, which may be seen as tiny projections.

4. Culture

Fungal cultures are used to identify the cause of a fungal infestation, allowing identification of the source of infection. However, it is time-consuming and needs at least four weeks for completion. Oral antifungal treatment is generally done before the conclusion may be obtained.

How to deal with tinea capitis?

There are a few ways to get rid of tinea capitis.

1. Antifungal creams

The chemicals found in these medications can help you get rid of the fungus on your head. They aren't required. Apply the cream or shampoo to your scalp and hair. Allow time for it to work, which is usually between five minutes and 30 minutes. Thoroughly rinse it off after a period of time (usually 5-30 minutes).

2. Antifungal pills

Treat tinea capitis with oral medications, copper sulfate creams (clotrimazole), and topical treatments. Prognosis Tinea capitis has a good prognosis with treatment. Some of these medicines are available without a prescription. Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea are possible side effects.

3. Topical antifungals

There are numerous over-the-counter shampoos that claim to be able to treat dandruff. They're available as creams, lotions, powders, and sprays. They may suffocate fungus on your scalp. Apply the product to your scalp and hair. Allow time for it to work as directed, which is usually between 5 to 30 minutes.

4. Keeping the skin dry

Excessively moist conditions can cause ringworm, so it's critical to keep the affected skin dry while it heals. After a bath, quickly remove yourself and wear loose-fitting, breathable clothing.

5. Washing bedding regularly

It's easy to catch ringworm: It's contagious, and fungal spores may travel via skin-to-fabric contact. After each usage of your bedding, wash it with hot water to speed up the curing process and avoid reinfection.

6. Replacing or disinfecting hair tools

Because ringworm is caused by a fungus, it may take years for the growth to appear. This implies that people must disinfect or replace their hairbrushes, combs, and other hairstyling equipment on a regular basis. This will help to minimize reinfection risk.

7. Avoid infected animals

Ringworm is a skin infection that affects both people and animals. It appears as a patch of skin devoid of hair. If you have dogs or other pets with a history of ringworm, get them looked at by your veterinarian.

8. Avoid sharing personal items

Children should be taught not to allow other people to borrow their clothing, towels, hairbrushes, sports equipment, or other personal belongings.

9. Wear gloves

If you must touch someone or something that may be infected with ringworm, wear gloves. This will protect your hands from contact with the fungus.

10. Use medicated shampoo

A medicated shampoo may be used to eliminate fungus and prevent the spread of ringworm infection. Ketoconazole or selenium sulfide is one of the active antifungal components in shampoo. The fungus isn't killed by medicated shampoo, but it does help to keep it at bay. This type of therapy must be combined with an oral medication.

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