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Fungal Skin Infections In Childhood


Tinea is a general term for a group of related skin infections caused by different species of fungi. Tinea can affect almost any area of skin. See the table below for more details on specific types.

Medical Name Common Name Fungus Responsible
Tinea pedis Athlete's foot  
Tinea cruris Jock itch  
Tinea capitis Ringworm of the scalp Trichophyton tonsurans
Tinea corporis
Ringworm of the body
Ringworm of the nails
1. Trichophyton
2. Microsporum
Tinea versicolour   Malassezia furfur

It should be noted that ringworm is not a worm, but a fungal infection caused by one of the mould-like fungi called dermatophytes . Dermatophytes live in the skin's top layer of worn dead cells and in any structure that grows from the skin, including the hair and nails.
Over 90% of cases of tinea capitis are caused by a species of fungus called Trichophyton tonsurans. Tinea corporis, however, is commonly caused by 2 fungal species, Trichophyton and Microsporum.

Tinea versicolour, which can cause mysterious areas of patchy skin discoloration, is caused by the Malassezia furfur fungus. This fungus is found most commonly in teenagers and young adults.

Fungi that cause skin infections can pass from person to person. They can also be transferred to humans from contaminated soil and animals, especially cats, dogs, and rodents. Areas of injured skin have a higher than average risk of fungal infection. Very moist, sweaty, or poorly ventilated areas are also at risk, particularly the palms, soles, scalp, groin, and the area under the breasts.

Symptoms and Signs

Signs and symptoms of a fungal infection depend on which area of skin is affected.

  • On the palms and soles redness is often the only sign. However, the soles can also become blistered or display brown areas, crusty skin, or the skin between the toes can turn thick and scaly.
  • Nails can turn thick and white, and they can eventually crumble away if the infection is left untreated.
  • Fungal infections of the scalp may appear as either patchy bald areas or patches of scaly skin with dandruff-like flakes. Hairs may break off at their lower shafts, leaving sections of scalp that are covered only with stubble, a condition called black dot ringworm. There may also be a red, swollen area of scalp, called a kerion , which sometimes has small, pus-filled blisters on its surface.

Diagnosis and Treatments

A doctor will generally recognize a fungal infection from the way the skin looks. However, a diagnosis may need to be confirmed by by examining a portion of the effected skin.
Small areas of ringworm on the skin are usually treated with a prescription antifungal ointment or cream.
Larger areas of skin infection or ringworm of the scalp are usually treated with a prescription antifungal drug to be taken orally.
Antifungal shampoos are also sometimes used.
Treatment usually lasts many weeks to make sure that the infection is completely gone. As an extra precaution, whenever a child is being treated for ringworm of the scalp, hats, combs, and hairbrushes should not be shared.

The information in this page is presented in summarised form and has been taken from the following source(s):
1., Children's Health Section:

Other HON resources 
   From MedHunt

    From HONselect
     (def;articles & more)   

Tinea Pedis:
Dermatology Image Atlas

Tinea Capitis:
Dermatology Image Atlas

Tinea Versicolor:
Dermatology Image Atlas

Tinea Favosa
Dermatology Image Atlas

    Recent articles

Tinea Pedis
Tinea Capitis
Tinea Versicolor
Tinea Favosa


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Contact Last modified: Jun 25 2002