Scalp fungus causes dry, itchy patches to appear on the scalp. Scalp fungus is very contagious so medication must be used to clear the infection. Besides medications, other home remeides like proper hygiene and antifungal shampoo can also help.
Scalp fungus is more commonly known as ringworm, though this condition has nothing to do with being infected by worms. This infection is much more common in children than adults, but anyone can be susceptible to developing this infection. Scalp fungus can be tricky to treat because the hair can get in the way of applying topical medication. Knowing how the fungus gets contaminated and how to treat with medical treatments as well as home remedies is essential.
Causes of Scalp Fungus
Scalp Fungus is most commonly caused by the tinea capitis fungi. This type of fungus can also cause infections such as a groin infection or Athlete’s foot. It is commonly believed that the oil in the hair developed during puberty helps ward of fungal infections. Areas affected by this fungus will basically appear normal, but will develop a round patch that is irritated around the edges. The fungus is contagious and one can get it from several sources.
1. From Animals
Pets like dogs and cats can develop fungal infections on their skin, which they can then transmit to others. This is a common way for children to become infected because they are more likely to play with the animal. Those who live or work on farms can also easily become infected with a fungal infection from their livestock.
2. Person to Person
Most cases of scalp fungus are transferred from person to person. Spores can be transmitted on towels, brushes, combs, bed sheets or furniture. Some people may unknowingly carry the spores on their skin and hair without showing symptoms of infection, making it easy to transmit the spores to others. So it is common for scalp fungus to occur in outbreaks in schools or within families.
3. Other Causes
It is easy for live fungal spores to travel throughout the air. If these spores land on your head or skin it can develop into a fungal infection.
Symptoms of Scalp Fungus
In most cases a fungal infection simply looks like a bad patch of dandruff on the scalp. Some may mistake these dry, white patches as a psoriasis infection. In some cases these patches can cause the hair to fall out, leaving bald patches with small, broken hairs throughout. In less common cases boils or a severe infection known as kerion may occur. This will cause the patch to ooze or become tender. If this goes untreated it can lead to fever, swollen neck glands or permanent hair loss.
Diagnosis of Scalp Fungus
The symptoms you are experiencing is often enough to diagnose a fungal infection, but these symptoms can often be mistaken for other conditions. Many falsely believe their infection is caused by dandruff or psoriasis. Your doctor can provide a final diagnosis by taking a sample of the patch. They will scrape the affected area and look at the debris under a microscope to determine if the area is affected by spores.
Treatments and Preventions for Scalp Fungus
1. Antifungal Shampoos
Antifungal creams or shampoos will not fully clear your infection. But they can provide great relief, more importantly, it’s a great preventive measure for future scalp fungal infection. Watch the following video for a recommended anti-fungal shampoo:
2. Proper Hygiene
Any objects that may have come in contact with spores such as pillows, hats, combs or blankets should be disinfected with bleach or thrown away. Avoid sharing these items or towels, and wash our towels frequently. Monitor the scalps of others in your household including pets to ensure that the fungal infection is not spreading. Follow any instructions from your doctor to help prevent spreading the infection. If these instructions are followed it should not be necessary to remove your child from school to prevent spreading the infection.
3. Herbal Remedies
When it comes to fungal infections, herbs can usually do the magic, watch the video to find our which herbs work for your scalp fungus:
4. Antifungal Medications
Several medications such as itraconazole and fluconazole are used to treat scalp fungus. The most common medications include:
- Terbinafine - This medication is becoming more commonly used, in spite of the fact that it is not licensed to treat scalp fungus. This medication is typically applied for four weeks to completely rid the scalp of the infection.
- Griseofulvin - This is one of the most common medical treatments for ringworm. This will be taken for 8-12 weeks. If the patient is not capable of swallowing the tablets, they can be crushed and mixed with water, making them easier to swallow.