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Fungus hair


Fungus hair is a scalp infection caused by mold-like fungi known as dermatophytes. The condition is also referred to as tinea capitis or ringworm of the scalp. The fungi actually originate at the skin or scalp and not the hair. The condition is common among children although teenagers and adults may also be affected. Fungus hair is persistent and can last for several months or years. It is also contagious which means that an infected person can pass it on to others through contaminated objects or direct contact.

FUNGUS HAIR SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS

The fungi causing hair infection grow and spread in warm and moist areas so those with poor hygiene and living in places with hot climates may be more prone to developing the condition. Several thousands of children in the United States experience tinea capitis at some point in their lives although the problem is more common among those of African descent, third world countries and tropical regions. Fungus hair is not considered a medical emergency although there are rare cases wherein complications result due to severe infection.

FUNGUS HAIR CAUSES

Fungus hair will manifest symptoms such as round and scaly scalp lesions. The lesions may be present only at one part or side of the head or spread all over. Affected areas may look inflamed and red as well as show some signs of balding because of hair that has broken or fallen off. In some cases, minute black spots may also be seen on the scalp. Some of the lesions may cause tiny skin particles to chaff off which appear like dandruff on the hair. Itching may not be experienced by all affected individuals. Some may feel mild itchiness, severe itchiness or no itchiness at all. Dry scaling, matted hair, yellow crusting and honeycomb appearance are other associated symptoms depending on the type of fungal invasion. It is possible for an individual to present no signs but be a carrier.

Kerions are uncommon signs of fungus hair as evidenced by the presence of pus inside lesions on the scalp. Other complicated symptoms include permanent scarring of the scalp and hair loss. Diagnosis of the condition will primarily be based on the scalp appearance. Skin lesion biopsy observed via a microscope or culture will show the presence of dermatophytes. To properly diagnose tinea capitis, Wood’s lamp test may also be performed to verify fungal scalp infection.
Fungus hair
Image: Fungus hair


Hair fungi will grow faster and more productively in warm and moist areas so main causes would be poor hygiene, minor scalp or skin injury and prolonged wetness of the skin such as failure to dry completely or sweating. The infection may also be passed on by borrowing contaminated brushes, combs and other items. Human beings as well as a number of animals like cats can directly pass the fungus to others. The Trichophyton or “T” and Microsporum or “M” fungi are the most common types that cause fungus hair.

The condition is classified according to how the hair shaft is invaded by the fungus. Ectothrix hair invasion is caused by M. canis, M. gypseum, M. nanum, M. distortum and T. verrucosum which are present cattle, pigs and cats. Endothrix invasion is caused by T. tonsurans and T. soudanense. Favus is caused by T. schoenleinii resulting to honeycomb hair shaft destruction. Anthropophilic infections usually originate in crowded places as well as borrowing of contaminated items. Zoophilic infections come from direct contact with an infected animal. Geophilic infections come from contact with infected soil.

FUNGUS HAIR TREATMENT

Primarily, good hygiene will help minimize the extent of fungal infection. Use sulfur soap and anti-fungal shampoo when bathing. Apply the contents very well into hair and scalp to make lather then leave for 5 to 10 minutes before rinsing well. Repeat the process as necessary. Anti-fungal shampoo application 2 to 3 times a week for 4 weeks may be enough but oral treatment may be indicated if cultures remain positive. Some of the best shampoos to use are 1% to 2% zinc pyrithione, 2% Ketoconazole, Povidone-iodine and 2.5% selenium sulfide. Oral anti-fungal agents will help get rid of remaining microorganisms such as Griseofulvin, terbinafine, itraconazole and fluconazole taken for 4 to 6 weeks. A physician will recommended the best dose depending on patient’s responses. Do not take any medication without consulting a doctor to avoid side effects and complications.

Avoid further contamination by keeping scalp wound and injury-free. Do not scratch scalp to prevent sores. In the meantime, patients may have to use soft bristled hair brushes to protect their scalp from being damaged. They should also avoid contact with other individuals and animals. In some cases where hair fungus is diagnosed late, all family members may also have to be diagnosed and treated to stop the problem for good. Severe forms of infection may require shaving off hair to easily treat the scalp underneath.

FUNGUS HAIR PREVENTION

Good general hygiene is necessary to prevent infection of all sorts. Make sure that you shampoo and wash your scalp thoroughly especially after having a haircut. Avoid contact with infected pets, people, soil and objects. Avoid borrowing towels, combs and brushes and make sure that all headgear and items that come in contact with your hair are washed, cleaned and dried well before use. Make it a habit to clean and wash all your items as well at least once a week. Steer clear of very crowded places.

You may want to have your scalp check every 6 months or so to ensure that it is in a very healthy condition. Treat your hair every now and then with anti-fungal agents but be careful about using too many products which may cause your scalp to harbor more microorganisms than before. Parents of children with fungus hair should inform the class teacher to keep others from getting infected. The child does not need to skip school altogether since precautions and preventive measures may be applied without due embarrassment on the kid’s part.

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