Fungal Scalp Infection- Treatment

There are some individuals who carry tinea capitis (fungus which infects the scalp) and remain asymptomatic. These carrier individuals must also be treated to control the spread of the fungus infection.

Further, if any member of a family has been diagnosed with a fungal scalp infection, all members of the family must be examined for the presence of infection. A cure can never be obtained if one of the family members remains infected.

Many physicians simply treat the entire family to ensure a cure.

Even though embarrassing, the day care, school or teacher must be informed so that other children can also be treated or prevented from getting the infection. All infected children should not be allowed to attend school until the scalp infection is cured. Some schools do allow children to attend school as long as the child is being treated.

Shampoos: Carriers can be treated with medicated shampoos. The anti fungal shampoo is used 2-3 times a week for 4-6 weeks. If further scalp tests reveal the presence of the fungi, an oral antifungal is recommended.

Antifungal Shampoos should contain one of the following chemicals:

- selenium sulfide

- zinc pyrithione

- Povidone-iodine

- Ketoconazole

Topical medications

The scalp fungus usually penetrates the deeper layers of the scalp and is not on the surface. Thus, topical medications do not work. Further the topical medications have no ability to penetrate the hair follicles where this fungus usually likes to reside.

Oral Medications

In some cases, the scalp infection has been long standing and ignored. In cases associated with hair loss and pus, oral treatment is excellent. There are several oral agents which include:

- Griseofulvin

- terbinafine

- itraconazole

- fluconazole

Griseofulvin is excellent for tinea capitis and is available either as a liquid or tablet. Because some odd side effects, it has become replaced by some of the newer anti fungal drugs. In all cases, treatment is continued for 1-3 months until all signs of infection have disappeared.

Corticosteroids: In the severe cases of tinea capitis with enlarged glands, a short course of corticosteroids may help

Surgery: When pus has collected beneath the scalp, surgical drainage may be required in the severe and rare cases.

All hair instruments like brushes, combs, pillowcases, showering caps and should be cleansed with an antifungal shampoo.

All family members should use an anti fungal shampoo for 1-2 weeks to ensure that the infection has not spread. Since the fungi can also be acquired from animals, all pets should be examined by a Veterinarian

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