The world around children is one big playground. Many toddlers just need to play with an attractive pile of earth, pet a cute yard cat, or swap a pacifier with their sandbox neighbor. All this can turn into a fungal skin disease, better known as “ringworm”.
Previously, the treatment of this disease was quite simple – the child was simply shaved off all the hair, the scalp was regularly treated with strong-smelling solutions and ointments. Now there are many more effective and humane treatment methods that allow you to preserve your hair. MedAboutMe talks about how to prevent infection, and what to do if you could not protect yourself from the fungus.
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Microsporia (the scientific name for ringworm) is the most common fungal infection in childhood. It is known to account for almost 90% of all skin lesions. The causative agent of the disease is fungi belonging to the genus Microsporum . They are carried by cats, dogs, rabbits and even monkeys, as well as other people.
Ringworm is a highly contagious skin condition.
Even a short-term contact with an infected animal or person is enough for the spores of the fungus to move from one child to another.
It is believed that microsporia is a disease of predominantly “kindergarten” and primary school age, but it is more and more common in infants. The most common risk factors for developing a fungal infection include:
- regular visits to educational and entertainment institutions for children (kindergartens, swimming pools, game rooms, gyms, etc.);
- violation of personal hygiene rules;
- use of towels, clothes or bed linen common to the whole family;
- decreased activity of the immune system;
- stay in a summer camp;
- the presence of a house of animals that often walk on the street.
The first signs of ringworm
The duration of the incubation period for the disease can be different: from 6 days to a month.
Symptoms directly depend on where the inflammatory process is located. For example, if the smooth skin of the torso or face is affected , small, rounded pink spots appear. Their diameter does not exceed 1.5-3 cm.
Over time, the center of the inflammatory element becomes lighter and begins to peel off. The edges rise above the skin surface in the form of a small ridge.
The rash is often sore and itchy, which is aggravated by contact with water.
At night, the child combs and injures the spots: this contributes to the transfer of fungal spores and the appearance of new foci on previously healthy skin.
When the scalp is affected, the symptoms are much more pronounced. Several large foci appear at once (more than 2.5 cm in diameter): the hair in these places breaks off at a height of 3-7 mm, as a result of which the disease got its name.
A slight peeling is found on the surface of the foci. The child constantly scratches his head, as a result of which night sleep suffers.
Why is the disease dangerous?
With weakened immunity, microsporia often turns into an infiltrative-suppurative form. Deep and painful abscesses appear, which open with the release of yellow-brown contents.
Sometimes abscesses form at the site of inflammatory foci – this can lead to a systemic inflammatory process. The body temperature rises, the lymph nodes increase, the general condition worsens.
If microsporia is not treated in time, deep scars may remain at the site of the foci.
To diagnose the disease, it is necessary to contact a dermatologist: the doctor will conduct an examination and make a scraping of the skin. This will help identify the pathogen.
As additional methods, skin examination with a Wood lamp and inoculation of biological material on nutrient media can be used.
A child with a confirmed diagnosis cannot attend school, kindergarten or other institutions. He needs to be at home, excluding contact with other babies.
Parents are advised to take all precautions so as not to get infected from their children.
For the treatment of milder forms of the disease, antifungal ointments and creams are used: they must be applied to the skin several times a day, and water should be avoided on the foci.
With massive lesions of the skin and scalp, systemic therapy is indicated. All antifungal medications are taken under medical supervision.
In 2020, scientists from the University of Toronto School of Medicine (Canada) published a paper comparing the effectiveness of several drugs in the treatment of various forms of microsporia.
For skin lesions caused by Microsporum , griseofulvin was most effective . And with microsporia of the hairy part of the hair terbinafine coped better .
Prevention: can infection be prevented?
Ringworm is a medical condition that almost everyone can face. A guide for children and parents that will reduce the risks of contracting microsporia:
- use individual towels and clothes;
- wearing shoes in public pools and showers;
- do not lend toys and combs to other people;
- avoid contact with stray animals;
- regularly inspect pets (if they go outside) for ringworm foci;
- do not injure the skin and keep it dry and clean;
- regularly change bedding and underwear.