Ringworm Scalp

Tinea capitis, also known as 'ringworm of the scalp' is one of several forms of the ringworm fungal infection.

Commonly, the infection looks like severe dandruff on various places on the scalp. Some infections cause patches of hair loss (bald patches) to develop. The bald patches are usually inflamed and very scaly and covered by broken hair and stubble. A severely affected area may develop a very thick build-up of scale called kerion. In these cases Tinea capitis may be mistaken for psoriasis.

Tinea capitis is contagious and most cases are transferred from person to person through direct contact or sharing towels, sheets, combs, and brushes. Sometimes an outbreak of Tinea capitis occurs in families or schools. Some dogs, cats and other pets and farm animals have fungal infections on their skin. Animals can pass on the fungal infection, which causes Tinea capitis, especially to children. In these cases the animal may need to be treated by a Vet.

SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS
Different fungal organisms cause Tinea capitis. The symptoms will vary depending on the type of organism that is causing the individual infection. Symptoms of Tinea capitis include dandruff, itching and scaling of the scalp and patches of baldness (this is caused by hair falling out from the lesions). Hair that does fall out will usually re-grow 6 to 12 months after treatment.

If the hair does not fall out it may become brittle and break off leaving stubble of hair on the scalp. In some cases several painful pustules (boils) develop on the scalp. A fever may develop with a severe infection and the glands in the neck may swell.

TREATMENT OPTIONS
As with all conditions your Doctor should be consulted. Your Doctor will diagnose and treat this condition. Ask your Doctor about the latest advice on this ailment. To identify Tinea capitis, a culture of the fungus is taken and examined. Treatment usually involves taking oral anti-fungal medication and using a medicated shampoo until symptoms subside. Your Doctor may prescribe oral steroids or a steroid cream in cases where Tinea capitis is causing severe inflammation. Once treatment has begun, children do not need to be excluded from school or daycare.

DIET HINTS
It is important to support the immune system. Some dietary suggestions include:
• Whole grains, raw fruits and fresh vegetables. These provide antioxidants which may help stimulate the immune system.
• Try to avoid excess sugar and white flour products.
• Try to eat unsweetened yoghurt. These provide acidophilus which help regulate bacteria levels.
• Try to eat lactic acid fermented foods such as sauerkraut, sour dough breads and yoghurt to help prevent the spread of infection.

VITAMINS/MINERALS/HERBS
• Zinc is thought to stimulate the immune system and inhibit fungal infections.
• Garlic is a strong antifungal agent.
• Acidophilus replaces good bacteria and helps prevent an overgrowth of bad bacteria.
• Golden seal herb is thought to inhibit the growth of fungus and other organisms. Golden seal can also be effectively used as a topical treatment in cream or ointment form.
• Pau D'Arco herb is believed to be an effective antifungal herb.
• Tea tree oil is known for its antifungal and antibacterial action. Bathe the affected area in a solution of water (1 litre) to Tea tree oil (10 drops) daily.

PHARMACIST'S ADVICE
Ask your MedAux Pharmacist for advice.
1. Follow the Diet Hints.
2. Use a medicated shampoo containing selenium sulphide or zinc pyrithione 2 to 3 times per week. Ask your Pharmacist to recommend a suitable shampoo. This can help decrease shedding of spores and should be used together with the oral anti-fungal medication prescribed by your Doctor. Using a medicated shampoo alone will not effectively treat the condition.
3. To reduce the risk of infection with Tinea capitis avoid lending or borrowing personal items such as clothing, towels, hairbrushes etc.
4. To prevent re-infection after treatment, wash combs and brushes in disinfectant solution such as mild bleach.
5. Always wash the hands with a germicidal soap to prevent the spreading of infection
6. If the diet is inadequate consider some supplements.