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Tinea Capitis (Scalp Fungal Infections)

In Thai Buddhist Monks

As we've seen this week, "tinea capitis" refers to infection of the scalp by various types of fungi. Tinea capitis is common among children and rare in adults. People living in close contact and sharing combs and similar type material are at higher risk for acquiring tinea capitis.

A recent study from Thailand has some important lessons about tinea capitis. In this study, 60 young male Buddhist monks with tinea capitis were studied. Many different types of fungi were uncovered from scalps included the anthropophilic fungus Trichophyton violaceum (60 %) and Trichophyton mentagrophytes (43 %). Microsporum canus (common in Europe) was less commonly found (35 %) and Trichophyton tonsurans (common in North America) was found in only 13 % of cases.

Much to my surprise, 95 % of the monks had evidence of scarring alopecia - a feared complication of tinea capitis type infections. The authors proposed that educational efforts regarding avoiding sharing personal items and improvement in personal and environmental hygiene is needed to reduce infection.

Reference
Bunyaratavej et al. Clinical and Laboratory Characteristics of a Tinea Capitis Outbreak among Novice Buddhist Monks. Pediatric Dermatology 2017; 1-3.


Dr. Jeff Donovan is a Canadian and US board certified dermatologist specializing exclusively in hair loss. To schedule a consultation, please call the Vancouver office at 604.283.9299



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