Health alert in Málaga due to ringworm outbreak

by Lorraine Williamson

MÁLAGA – Dermatologists in Malaga are warning of an outbreak of ‘tinea capitis’. Knows as ringworm, this infectious disease caused by fungi that affect the scalp. All patients had a ‘slicked back’ haircut with a ‘high shave’ fitted at ‘cheap’ hairdressers. 

The longer hair on top of the head is then combed back tightly and styled. To keep the currently trendy haircut, men (in this case) shave the hair on the back of their neck several times a month. And that is where the problem arose in Málaga. The ringworm appears as a reddish outline on the skin, a kind of ring, hence the name ‘ringworm’. 

Related post: Explosion of cases with scabies in Spain 

In the newspaper SUR, a dermatologist explains that it is a specific ringworm that has been “very common” in Africa and the United States for a few years. But is still rare in Spain and Europe. The outbreak in Malaga specifically concerns ringworm which affects the scalp. The Trichophyton tonsurans. 

The dermatologist points out that the fungus spreads through infected razors and has seen dozens of cases during his consultations. All those cases had in common was that the patients regularly visited a ‘low-cost’ hairdresser to keep their haircuts up-to-date. 

Mycological research has established that it is an anthropophilic fungus, i.e. the infection is from person to person. This is in contrast to zoophiles, in whom the infection goes from animal to human. 

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Clinically, according to the dermatologist consulted by SUR, the fungus is very similar to psoriasis or seborrheic dermatitis. This is why the condition was sometimes treated with topical corticosteroids in the beginning. And in turn this brought about a worsening of the symptoms. 

Cases spread across the province 

The detection of the cases has already spread to the rest of the province. This has been confirmed by the Dermatology department of the Hospital Clinico in the provincial capital. There too, an increase in cases has been observed in recent months. And those patients also regularly received a ‘slicked back’ haircut at cheap hairdressers. That is why hairdressing professionals are instructed by dermatologists and health authorities to detect and stop the chain of transmission. 

What is Ringworm? 

Ringworm is a common skin infection caused by a fungus. It is called a “ringworm” because it can cause a circular rash (shaped like a ring) that is usually red and itchy. 

Anyone can get ringworm. The fungi that cause this infection can live on the skin, surfaces, and household items such as clothes, towels, and bedding. 

Ringworm goes by many names. The medical terms are ‘tinea’ or ‘dermatophytosis’. Other names for ringworm are based on their location on the body – for example, ringworm on the feet is also referred to as “fungus.” 

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