November 4, 2012

Dermatophyte Fungal Infections: Affecting Childcare and Educational Settings

Fungal infections in children are a leading cause for health concern, especially among daycare workers and educational settings. For many children, the cause of fungal infection is simply attributed to outdoor play activities which were not followed by proper hygiene or bathing.

One such fungal infection is caused by a fungi referred to as dermatophyte. Most often creating an infection along the nails, skin and hair line, dermatophyte infections can be acquired from soil, contact with another person and even from animals, leading to concern among transmission from child to child.

If your child is suffering from a dermatophyte infection, the lesions will appear along the areas of the body where keratin is produced, thus the development at the skin, hair and nails. The lesion will appear as an irregular-shaped, red lesion with blistering or scaling along the outer rim.

In female children, the risk for developing a more complex infection, known as tinea capitis, is quite common. The sharing of brushes and hats often leads to easier transmission with girls developing this fungal infection at the hair shaft, resulting in irregular loss of hair.

Diagnosing the fungal infection associated with dermatophyte will require the use of special lamps or lighting, generally found in the dermatologist’s office. In addition, the dermatologist may want to conduct a culture test to ensure the diagnosis is accurate as, oftentimes, the lesion may be representative of another health complication.

To treat fungal infections associated with dermatophyte contamination, your child may be prescribed topical medications. However, in most cases, this type of fungal infection is best treated with the use of systemic antifungal therapy agents including Grisactin or Grisactin-PEG, although other antifungal remedies may be just as useful.

Protecting our children from this fungal infection is not realistically achievable. While they may contract the fungal infection from soil contamination, the risk for transmission is prevalent in schools and daycare facilities as well.

As with any skin disorder, the key to optimal health outcomes lies in the early detection, diagnosis and treatment. If your child attends school or daycare, and exhibits infection or lesions on the skin, hair and nails, consults a dermatologist regarding the testing necessary to rule out, or confirm, a fungal infection related to dermatophyte. For female children, the need for treatment and intervention is crucial to protecting the integrity of the hair and avoiding development of the skin disorder and scalp complication known as tinea capitis.