How do I Choose the Best Treatment for Tinea Capitis?

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  • Written By: M. West
  • Edited By: E. E. Hubbard
  • Last Modified Date: 07 October 2019
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Tinea capitis, or ringworm of the scalp, is an infection caused by a fungus affecting the scalp and hair shafts frequently found in children. Although it is challenging to prevent the fungus, certain measures can be employed that might reduce the risk. Treatment for tinea capitis consists of anti-fungal medications taken by mouth, as well as medicated shampoos. Anti-fungal medicine options consists of grisiofulvin or turbinafin hydrochloride, and may need to be taken six weeks or longer. A medicated shampoo containing ketokonazole or prescription strength selenium sulfide, might also help eradicate the infection and prevent its spread.

Trade names of griseofulvin are Grifulvin V and Gris-PEG, and are available as a liquid or tablet. This treatment for tinea capitis can cause the child's skin to be more sensitive to sunlight, so a sunscreen and protective clothing should be worn when outdoors. Side effects that are frequently experienced include intestinal or stomach disturbances, faintness, and fatigue. Anyone who has a penicillin allergy is also likely to be allergic to this medication.


The other choice in treatment for tinea capitis is terbinafin hydrochloride. The trade name is Lamisil, and is available as a tablet or a liquid that can be mixed with foods or beverages. Typical side effects include intestinal or stomach disturbances, rash, and a change in taste. A small risk of liver dysfunction is associated with this medication. It might take time to see improvement with either griseofulvin or terbinafin hydrochloride, and the patient may be instructed to continue the treatment even after the fungus is eradicated.

In addition to medications taken by mouth, a shampoo containing selenium sulfide or ketokonazole might be a helpful adjunct in the treatment for tinea capitis. It can not only assist in preventing the spread of the fungus to others, but can hinder its spread to other parts of the child's body. To apply the selenium sulfide shampoo, lather the child's hair and allow it to remain for five minutes before rinsing. A doctor may recommend that it be utilized two to three times a week, for a month's duration. If the child feels embarrassed by areas of baldness, a hat can be worn to conceal them.

The fungus that causes this infection is prevalent and highly contagious, so its prevention can be challenging. Certain practices, however, might minimize the risk. Advising children to shampoo frequently and wash their hands often may help. A child should avoid sharing or borrowing personal items from others, such as combs or towels. The fungus can be contacted from the family pet, so animals should be checked periodically by a veterinarian.


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