Fungal infections in children

Fungal infections in children

The traditional rise in the incidence of fungal infections in children, colloquially called “ringworm”, and in medical terms dermatophytosis, occurs in the autumn months – September, October and November. Another peak in incidence may occur in the spring.

These diseases are caused by fungi of the genera Microsporum and Trichophyton related to dermatophytes. At the same time , ring-shaped foci appear on the skin (it is interesting that in English they are called ringworm, literally a ring-shaped worm). If the fungus gets on the scalp covered with hair, there are pockets of breakage and hair loss.

Fungi – dermatophytes require keratin for their growth, and their distribution in the human body is limited by structures containing this protein – hair, nails and skin. Some dermatophytes spread directly from one person to another (anthropophilic organisms). Others live and are transmitted to humans from the soil (geophilic organisms), while still others are spread to humans from animals (zoophilic organisms). In animals, an asymptomatic course of infection is possible, which can lead to human infection from a apparently healthy animal. Most commonly, ringworm occurs in kittens, cats and dogs, small domestic rodents such as guinea pigs or hamsters and farm animals can also become ill . Infection can also be transmitted indirectly through contact with household items contaminated with fungi (such as upholstery, combs, hats). Due to the peculiarities of the protective properties of the skin, children and young women usually get sick . The incubation period from the moment the fungus enters the skin until the appearance of skin changes noticeable by the eye or breaking and hair loss when infected with different types of fungi can range from several days to 1.5 – 2 months.

To confirm the diagnosis of dermatophytosis, the doctor may conduct an examination in ultraviolet rays (Wood’s lamp). A greenish glow will appear only in case of infection with some species of fungi of the genus Microsporum, therefore, the absence of a glow does not exclude the diagnosis of dermatophytosis. To detect the disease, it is necessary to examine the scales of the skin or hair from the foci under a microscope. To exclude infection, the study must be carried out until several (up to five) negative results are obtained. Getting even one positive result allows you to diagnose a fungal infection and start treatment.

How to protect yourself from infection:

do not use other people’s clothing or personal hygiene items;
keep your skin clean and dry;
wash your hands with soap and running water after playing or handling animals;
thoroughly vacuum and clean up animal habitats in the house;
if there is a sick animal in the house, wear gloves when leaving, vacuum and treat its habitat in the house with a disinfectant solution ;
if you suspect that your pet is sick with ringworm, you should contact your veterinarian and examine all animals in the house.

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