Ringworm can cause permanent hair loss – Experts

Doctors advise on treatment and prevention of infection

Some healthcare experts on Tuesday urged parents to maintain proper hygiene to prevent their children from contracting scalp ringworm, a common fungal infection.

The experts, in Lagos, cited poor hygiene, which is common among those living in overcrowded houses, as one of the causes of the causes of the infection.

A Paediatrician at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, LUTH, Idi-Araba, Ezinna Kalu, said that scalp ringworm was common among children with poor hygiene practices.

He said that the disease could be highly contagious.

According to him, ringworm of the scalp is common among children within two and 15 years.

“Scalp ringworm is caused by fungal organisms known as dermatophytes. Dermatophytes are microscopic organisms that cause fungal infection of the scalp and hair shafts. The symptoms of ringworm of the scalp may vary, but it usually appears as itchy, scaly and bald patches on the head. It can be transmitted through personal contact and by sharing items such as brushes, combs, caps and towels. Some dogs, cats and other pets have fungal infections on their skins that cause scalp ringworm, and this can be transferred to the children,” he said.

He urged parents to discourage their children from sharing items such as brushes, combs and towels, and imbibe in them the culture of cleanliness including hand washing.

“Educate your children to be aware of the risk of ringworm. Washing their scalps regularly, especially after haircuts, helps to prevent ringworm of the scalp,” he said.

Another paediatrician, Peter Elemile, who works at the Gbagada General Hospital, Lagos, said that scalp ringworm, if not properly treated, could cause permanent hair loss.

Mr. Elemile said, “Scalp ringworm can be embarrassing to a child. Parents are encouraged to teach their children proper personal hygiene practices. Prompt and proper treatment is required to prevent permanent hair loss on the affected area and serious damage to the scalp. In rare cases, there is a risk of permanent scarring and bald patches remaining on the scalp after treatment.”

He advised that when scalp ringworm is diagnosed, contaminated objects such as combs, pillows, blankets, toys and scissors should be thrown away or disinfected with bleach, to prevent re-infection and spreading.

He said that ringworm of the scalp could be tougher to treat.

“It involves not only medicated shampoo and topical anti-fungal cream; a doctor may have to prescribe an oral anti-fungal medicine to ensure timely management. The most common symptoms of scalp ringworm are intense itching, bald patches, dandruff and scaling of the scalp,” he said.

Commenting, a general physician at the Isolo General Hospital, Lagos, Adewunmi Alayaki, said that cleanliness was the best way to get rid of the ringworm.

“You can prevent the ringworm by avoiding using combs, brushes, hats and beddings. Make sure your barber or hair stylist makes use of equipment that is properly cleaned and sterilised. Also, keep your scalp as dry and clean as possible since ringworm likes warm and moist areas,” he advised.


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