Tinea capitis is a superficial fungal infection that mainly affects the scalp, hair shafts and follicles. It is caused by dermatophytes (a type of fungi) that commonly infects the outer layer of skin and keratin rich parts like the hair and nails. Usually the fungal infections do not show age disparity.
Although, tinea capitis is depicted predominantly in children especially in the age group of 3 to 7 years and is more common in boys than girls. This condition is also known by the names like ringworm of the scalp and tinea tonsurans.
Tinea capitis is characterized by ring-shaped, scaly, red rashes that cause itching. In its milder form, it causes scaling of scalp skin with little hair loss where as severe form of tinesa capitis can cause large plaques with extensive alopecia.
Causes of tinea infections
Fungal infection by dermatophytes is the most common cause of tinea capitis. Since this infection is highly contagious, it also can be caused by using hygiene related items from an infected person.
In addition, the fungi thrive easily in warm and moist environment, and hence tinea capitis can also be caused due to poor hygiene. Tinea infection in adults is often more subtle because the sebum has protective effects that decrease the risk of infection.
Although in post-menopausal women, tinea capitis can be caused because of hormonal imbalances that alter the protective effects of sebum.
How is tinea capitis diagnosed?
The diagnosis of tinea capitis begins with examination of hair scalp for presence of a scaly lesions and hair loss, especially in children. The diagnosis is further confirmed by taking sample of skin scales and hairs from the affected areas and conducting laboratory studies.
What might tinea capitis be confused with?
Tinea capitis can be often confused with other skin and hair conditions like dandruff, alopecia, dermatitis, eczema or psoriasis of the scalp due resemblance in some common symptoms.
How is tinea capitis treated?
Treatment options for tinea capitis include oral antifungal medication and medicated shampoos. The fungal infections may take up to one month to cure completely. You may need to visit doctor after 4 to 5 weeks to see if the treatment is working.