Hair Loss: Ringworm

Tinea capitis, commonly known as Ringworm, is a type of fungal infection involving the skin and the follicles. Fungal infections can occur anywhere on the body, but we will focus on the condition it involves the scalp (tinea capitis), beard (tinea barbae) and other facial hair.

Despite the name, ringworm has nothing to do with a worm or insect.  It is a fungus, commonly Trichophyton tonsurans or Microsporum canis, and is contagious between humans by direct skin to skin contact, sharing infected brushes, combs, clippers, towels, hats, and other hygienic and clothing items, and direct contact with infected animal skin. It is mostly common in kids but can occur in adults and those with immune suppression.

If left untreated, the patches of scale can enlarge or spread to form new lesions on the scalp, beard, eyebrows, or skin.  The fungus can be incorporated into the hairs, causing the hairs to become fragile and break off at the skin level.  this gives the appearance of black dots on the skin and “moth-eaten” patchy hair loss.  One can also develop pus bumps in the affected area and swollen lymph nodes at the back of the scalp. An inflammatory reaction to the fungus may result in the formation of a kerion, a large pus-filled abscess.

Tinea capitis can be diagnosed in a clinic by fungal cultures, biopsies, or using a wood’s lamp which fluoresces the fungal byproducts a yellow-green color.

Tinea capitis must be treated medically because the follicles and the hair fibers are involved. The good news is that the hair loss is reversible if treated early.  A course or oral medications for 6-8 weeks is needed.  The medicine not only helps kill the fungus on the skin but is incorporated into the hair, preventing the fungus from growing inside the hair fiber. Medicated shampoos can also help with treating the skin lesions.

It is generally a good idea to not have any hair cuts until you have undergone treatment.  Using clippers or a razor can spread the fungus to other hair-barren body parts you may shave.  Discard razors and clean clippers with antiseptic prior to reusing them after a fungal infection.




facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinmailPosted on: January 30, 2015, by : DrHillHairLoss

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