According to abbreviationfinder, HF stands for head fungus (Tinea capitis). The head fungus (tinea capitis) is an infection of the skin with so-called dermatophytes (skin fungi). Head fungus occurs mainly in children. It is assumed here that their immune system is not yet fully developed and is therefore susceptible to the pathogens. The head fungus (tinea capitis) is a contagious skin disease that usually affects the hairy head.
What is a head fungus?
The sufferers notice a conspicuous skin rash relatively early on, which occurs in connection with dandruff, burning and itching.
Tinea capitis is a fungal infection of the skin. This usually occurs in children, but can also affect adults because the head fungus is very contagious. The head fungus is transmitted by the following pathogens: Microsporum canis and various forms of Trichophyton. Free-ranging animals such as dogs and cats are often infected with the pathogens, from where they are transmitted to humans.
An infection with the pathogen Microsporum canis can be recognized by the circular, hairless and sharply defined areas. In addition to broken hair, the scalp may be covered with greyish scales. Infection with the pathogen Trichophyton is often accompanied by inflammatory reactions.
The hair also breaks off here, but the bald spots on the scalp are rather irregular in shape and very reddened. The head fungus (tinea capitis) usually heals without consequences.
The head fungus is usually transmitted by so-called head fungus pathogens. In Central Europe, these are mainly Microsporum canis and several forms of Trichophyton. The pathogens are mainly transmitted by pets such as cats, dogs and guinea pigs.
Since other diseases can also be hidden behind the symptoms of skin rash, bald, round spots, dandruff, itching, inflammatory reactions, etc., it must also be clarified whether there is another cause. The following diseases must be clarified: psoriasis, atopic eczema, seborrhea, contact eczema, pityriasis, carbuncles, etc.
Symptoms, Ailments & Signs
Head fungus can be recognized by the typical symptoms, which mainly affect the scalp and hair. The sufferers notice a conspicuous skin rash relatively early on, which occurs in connection with dandruff, burning and itching. Also typical are bald, round spots in the hair, which are limited to a few areas, usually the size of the palm of a hand.
In addition, painful, weeping patches of skin can form. These become inflamed as the disease progresses and secrete pus and tissue fluid. The lymph nodes are usually swollen and overly tender. The hair of those affected is very sensitive and breaks off quickly. Split ends occur in certain areas and the characteristic hair pattern with light spots and an unkempt appearance develops.
The hair itself is very greasy as a result of the secretions, which the sufferers usually find extremely unpleasant. A deep infection can leave scars and sensory disturbances on the scalp. If the pathogen is carried over, a large number of general symptoms such as fever, nausea and vomiting, headaches and a general feeling of illness can set in. Head fungus usually develops over the course of a few days and subsides after a few weeks with appropriate treatment.
Diagnosis & History
The diagnosis of a head fungus can sometimes be difficult. In order to be able to start a suitable therapy, the pathogen must first be determined. A fungal culture is created. For this, hair or hair stumps are removed from the affected area. The downside of mushroom culture is that growing a pathogen can take anywhere from three to six weeks.
An infection with Microsporum canis can be detected with a UV lamp – the so-called Wood light. If an infection is present, this can be recognized by the yellowish-green fluorescence. However, since the sensitivity of the test is not very high, it is not sufficient for diagnostics alone.
The course is usually uncomplicated. Tinea capitis usually heals without complications. However, with a deep infection, scars may remain. Hair usually stops growing in this area afterwards. The healing is usually faster in adults than in children. The healing phase also depends on the hair length. In the case of head fungus, it is therefore recommended to cut the hair short, as this can significantly shorten the treatment time.
The head fungus causes very unpleasant discomfort on the patient’s head. In most cases, the affected person’s hair breaks off and severe dandruff appears. The scalp can also be red, itchy and painful. The hair itself often becomes greasy and the aesthetics of the affected person are reduced.
In most cases, the quality of life is greatly reduced by the head fungus. It is not uncommon for those affected to also suffer from mental illnesses or depression, which can be triggered by inferiority complexes or reduced self-esteem. Infections can also occur, which can also leave scars on the scalp.
The treatment itself does not lead to any further complications or discomfort. The symptoms can be limited and treated with the help of medication or creams. However, the duration of treatment itself can be several weeks. As a rule, the person concerned also has to cut his hair short, which can also lead to psychological problems. Life expectancy remains unaffected by the head fungus. Furthermore, the patient can also fall ill with this disease again.
When should you go to the doctor?
If you have dandruff, brittle hair and an oily scalp, you should always consult a doctor. There may be a head fungus that needs to be diagnosed and treated. Medical advice is required if the symptoms mentioned cannot be alleviated or even become worse through the use of care products. If the symptoms have not gone away after one to two weeks, you should consult your family doctor. Swollen lymph nodes, repeated infections or increasing discomfort are also clear warning signs that indicate a serious illness.
People who notice such symptoms are best advised to contact their general practitioner or dermatologist. In particular, psoriasis patients and people with sebborhea should seek medical advice. The risk groups also include people with another chronic skin disease. Children, the elderly and pregnant women should seek medical advice if they develop other symptoms or serious complications. If the head fungus is affecting the mental state, a therapist may also need to be consulted.
Treatment & Therapy
The head fungus is treated both systemically and locally. Furthermore, it must be taken into account during treatment whether adults or children are affected.
Systemic treatment in adults involves the use of antifungal drugs, which are antifungal drugs. The following active ingredients are approved for the treatment of head fungus: griseofulvin, terbinafine, itraconazole and fluconazole. However, only the active ingredient griseofulvin is approved for the treatment of children.
In the case of drug treatment, it is important that the drugs are taken for a sufficiently long period of time. The therapy covers a minimum period of four to eight weeks. Even if there are no more symptoms, the medication must be continued. Only when the doctor says that the drug can be discontinued is the treatment sufficient.
In addition to the systemic treatment, there is also a local treatment with special antifungal creams that are applied to the skin. Furthermore, in addition to the scalp, the hair must also be treated, since the head fungus also spreads to the hair. There are special antifungal shampoos for this. In order to shorten the treatment time, it makes sense to cut off long hair, as otherwise it may take several months to successfully treat the head fungus.
The treatment of tinea capitis should only be stopped when no more pathogens can be detected by another fungal culture.
Outlook & Forecast
If no expert treatment is taken up, the prognosis is rather unfavorable. Because the disease can spread. Appearance often suffers, which leads to psychological problems. In the worst case, scarring can occur where hair no longer grows back. A permanent optical limitation thus characterizes the head. In addition, the risk of infection for other people must not be ignored. A transfer to uninvolved persons is possible. Not treating the head fungus is harmful to both those affected and those around them.
On the other hand, there is a positive outlook when starting therapy. Currently available drugs combat the pathogen in the long term, provided that the treatment is not stopped prematurely. In addition to antimycotics, creams and shampoos have also become established. Children have to accept limitations in the choice of medicines that do not impede the success of the treatment. Patients often have to wear their hair short. This can result in a temporary psychological stress situation. If a fungal culture no longer shows any pathogens, the treatment was successful. The patient can go on with his normal life. It takes several months to complete therapy.
An infection with the head fungus can be prevented to a limited extent. Suspicious animals should never be touched. The most common sources of infection are cats and guinea pigs. Because of this, they should be checked regularly by a veterinarian. If the pets show signs of infection with the head fungus, the pets should be taken to the vet for quarantine.
In order not to spread the pathogen further, the following rules should be followed:
Hairbrushes, combs, towels, washcloths, bedding, clothing, stuffed animals and other toys must be thoroughly disinfected. This also applies to the shelves on which the objects lie. The same goes for pet toys and bedding.
Children must be released from kindergarten and school. The doctor must decide on a case-by-case basis when they can be visited again. Facilities must be informed of the infestation so that they can take precautionary measures to prevent spread among students.
As long as the head fungus is present, a visit to the hairdresser should be avoided under all circumstances.
Once the diagnosis of tinea capitis has been made, the source of the infection must also be sought. It is helpful if a mushroom culture is created by all family members. Furthermore, the house must be thoroughly disinfected. Only when the focus of infection has been found and eliminated can a renewed infection with the head fungus be prevented.
The disease heals successfully with therapy. However, this does not eliminate the risk of reinfection. Patients are informed about the causes of the head fungus as part of the initial treatment. They are then responsible for avoiding contact with possible triggers. This primarily includes infected pets, but also humans.
Everyday objects close to the head must be cleaned thoroughly. Scheduled follow-up examinations are not planned because of the freedom from symptoms after an initial treatment. In the case of a stubborn fungal disease, the therapy can drag on for months. During this time, doctors clarify the question of whether the tinea capitis is still present by creating a fungal culture. Patients are often temporarily burdened by the changed appearance, which has been disadvantageous.
In addition, there is a necessary isolation in order not to infect other people. In addition to these complications, scarring sometimes occurs. Psychological support can be indicated if you suffer from the changed appearance. The patient then learns to cope with his situation and adopt a self-confident attitude to life.
Scheduled follow-up examinations therefore play a subordinate role in tinea capitis. Medications mean that the disease will heal over time. Only in the context of a long therapy lasting months can complications be expected, which have to be compensated for by aftercare.
You can do that yourself
Like other skin fungi, head fungus can also be treated with various home remedies. A proven remedy is apple cider vinegar, which should be applied regularly to the affected areas with a piece of cotton wool. The apple cider vinegar is best not diluted for this purpose.
Furthermore, head fungus can be treated with tea tree oil. The tea tree oil contains a naturally occurring antibiotic, which can be used against fungi and other germs. This is also applied to the affected areas of the skin with a piece of cotton wool. This treatment is then repeated regularly until there is an improvement.
Another home remedy for fungi is natural yoghurt. This can be applied to the affected areas and should be allowed to act for about 15 minutes. The yoghurt is then washed off with warm water.
In addition, head fungus can also be treated with lavender oil. The essential oils of lavender oil have been proven to help rid the skin of fungi. The lavender oil should also be applied to the affected areas with a cotton swab. If the person concerned is prone to skin irritation, it is advisable to dilute the lavender oil before the treatment. This treatment should also be repeated regularly until there is an improvement.