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Skin Care and Diseases

Tinea corporis and tinea capitis ~ carrier?



My 5 yr old daughter has been diagnosed with tinea corporis and one spot of tinea capitis ~ she had it roughly for 3 weeks. She has been put on Griseofulvin, starting Wednesday, since topical anti-fungal creams were not working. No one else has gotten the infection, with the exception of my 8 year old son who had one spot on his leg, and a topical cream got rid of it.

I have been washing sheets, not having her use the same towel more than once, have sprayed lysol on everything ~ couches, surfaces, doorknobs, beds, pillows, brushes, anything she touches. I have been in constant contact, even using the same hairbrush and have not contracted it.

My question is this: my doctor said that it is a low level contagen and since no one else has shown signs of it, we cannot pass it on, and we are not carriers ~ ie; we cannot give it to anyone else. Is this true? Would it not be on our clothing? Can we still not spread it, even though we are not getting infected?


Assuming the diagnosis is accurate (there may have been a scraping call a KOH to confirm the elements of fungus under the microscope in the doctor's office, or a fungal culture that would have been sent to a lab to grow and identify the fungus), it depends on what type of fungus is causing the tinea eruption. Some of these fungi grow in the soil, some can be carried by pets or by humans, some live in the carpets or can be in other areas in our environment.

It sounds like you are taking all the precautionary measures. It is important to not go overboard or become paranoid at the same time. You do not need to keep cleaning everything she touches with Lysol every time. The good news is that most of the infections are generally harmless in kids other than the fact that they can cause a skin or scalp rash (which may have hair loss as a part of its presentation).

In general, most of the fungi that cause ringworm/tinea capitis are low in their contagiousness. Although anyone can "carry" the organism transiently on them, it is thought to be an issue only if the person has an active rash. It is of low likelihood that one can pass it on through their clothing (may not be the case with athlete's foot where one theoretically can pass it by sharing shoes/sandals).

As long as your daughter and son are improving, and no one else has it actively, you can reduce your worrying. The next time someone gets a rash, follow-up with your board certified dermatologist for further evaluation.

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Response by:

Pranav   Sheth, MD Pranav Sheth, MD
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati