Tinea capitis, also referred to as “ringworm of the scalp”, is a fungal infection that affects areas of the scalp, eyebrows and eyelashes. Scalp fungal infections primarily affect children and are commonly spread through direct physical contact.
The infection typically invades the hair follicles, causing the hair to break off at the shaft, resulting in bald patches. The bald patches are typically round and scaly in appearance, and can slowly enlarge over time unless treated. Often times, inflammation and redness will be present at the site of the infection. Tinea faciei is a less common fungal infection that affects the face, causing red flaky patches to appear on the surface of the skin. In some cases, inflamed red lesions will develop.
Factors such as sun exposure can greatly aggravate this condition. This condition is also contagious and can easily be spread by direct person-to-person contact. Adults are most commonly affected. For men, a similar infection can appear in the beard and moustache area, It is referred to as tinea barbae. Keeping the skin clean and dry is best way to prevent fungal infections from occurring. Treatment for fungal infections usually involves over-the-counter anti-fungal creams or medications prescribed by a doctor.
Common features of fungal infections include:
- Hair loss in well-defined patches on the scalp
- Patches are round and may have small black dots (where the hair has broken off at the shaft).
- Scaliness of the skin that may look like dandruff
- Fragile hair that can easily break or fall out
- Redness and inflammation Itching
- Red, scaly patches of skin that appear on the face In severe cases, red inflamed lesions may occur
- Peeling of affected skin Itchiness
Fungal infections are caused by dermatophytes, which are parasitic fungi that affect the skin hair or nails. These types of fungus thrive in moist, warm conditions. In cases of tinea capitis, dermophytes will attack the hair shafts and follicles, causing patches of hair loss. In cases of tinea faciei, dermophytes will grow on the skin, causing irritation and scaly patches to appear. These types of fungal infections are commonly spread through direct human-to-human contact and can also be spread through contact with animals.
Since moist environments breed bacteria and fungus, it’s important to keep your skin clean and dry. Wash your hands frequently, especially if you already have a fungal infection. Avoid sharing personal items such as combs, brushes, towels and hats. This can spread fungus to others.
The best way to prevent a fungal infection is good hygiene and early treatment. Evaluate and treat children who have fungal infections. Treat fungal infections in adults especially on the feet, groin and trunk. It’s important to remember that pets can get fungal infections too. Make sure to have them treated if they have an infection.
Over-the-counter topical antifungal creams are helpful for treating facial fungus, but are not very effective for fungal infections of the scalp.
A doctor may prescribe topical antifungals or oral antifungal medications such as terbenafine, fluconazole, itraconazole and ketoconazole. Systemic steroids may be required for very aggressive inflammatory reactions.
- Topical Antifungal Creams
- Prescription-strength Topical Antifungals