Description, Causes and Risk Factors:
Alternative Name: Pityriasis amiantacea.
Tinea amiantacea is an eczematous condition of the scalp resulting in hair loss in which thick tenaciously adherent scale infiltrates and surrounds the base of a group of scalp hairs.
Tinea amiantacea affects the scalp as shiny asbestos-like (amiantacea) thick scales attached in layers to the hair shaft. The scales surround and bind down tufts of hair. The condition can be localized or covering over the entire scalp. Temporary alopecia and scarring alopecia may occur due to repeated removal of hairs attached to the scale. It is a rare disease with a female predilection.
Tinea amiantaceais frequently found to affect only a small part of the scalp. But there are some cases wherein the condition of tinea amiantacea has involved the entire scalp. It has also been seen to be present in the skin behind the ears of young girls, as a localized condition of tinea amiantacea but it may also extend to the scalp area. It may also be seen extending from an infection of lichen simplex in the scalp.
Its definite cause has not yet been found although it is associated with various underlying primary dermatoses, such as psoriasis, atopic dermatitis, seborrheic dermatitis, tinea capitis, pyoderma, pediculosis, alopecia areata, lichen simplex chronicus and lichen planus.
Tinea amiantacea can easily be misdiagnosed due its close resemblance to other scalp diseases such as psoriasis, seborrheic dermatitis or lichen planus. However in tinea amiantacea the scales are attached to both the hair shaft and the scalp. Tinea amiantacea may be present with other inflammatory conditions such as atopic dermatitis or seborrheic dermatitis and sebaceous scales and alopecia can occur.
When afflicted with the condition tinea amiantacea, the skin of the scalp is found to be densely covered with scales, more specifically the ends of the hair where the follicles are found. The scales produced by tinea amiantacea are found to be arranged like shingles on a roof. Some may describe it like asbestos flakes, which gives it its name. The skin of the scalp commonly appears normal, under the scales, but it can also appear reddish and scaly.
Areas afflicted with tinea amiantacea may experience hair loss although hair may grow afterwards following extensive and continuous treatment of the infection. It is often caused by difficulty in combing the hair strands and separating them from each other since they are found to be clumped together with the scales caused by this condition.
Skin and hair samples for mycology (the branch of botany that studies fungi and fungus-caused diseases) and bacterial culture may be useful. Skin biopsy is rarely necessary.
The treatment of tinea amiantacea, like any other scalp infection, is quite messy and even smells bad, which makes it rather unpopular with those afflicted with it. Unfortunately, there is no other way but to go through this treatment for several weeks, at least, to get rid of the infection.
There are studies that concentrate on finding an effective cure for tinea amiantacea but at present, shampoos that contain either coal tar or ketoconazole may be used. Application depends on the degree of the infection. Sometimes, it may need to stay on the scalp for an extended period of time, just to make sure that the medication has penetrated the skin of the scalp. This is often seen in more severe cases. Steroids and lotions may help with the itch but does not remove the scales and there is a possibility of aggravating the inflammation even more.
The bacteria staphylococci are present in the majority of cases. Treatment with systemic antibiotics and coal tar shampoo can completely clear the condition when Staphylococcus Aureus bacteria are found. Fungal infections such as tinea capitis are known to mimic the symptoms of the condition and can be cleared with antifungal treatment.
Avoid hot baths or showers to prevent the itching from worsening. Oatmeal baths may also sooth the itching.
Exposure to sunlight or treatment with artificial ultraviolet light (by a doctor) may speed up the healing process. But be careful to avoid sunburn.
Avoid demanding physical activities that can raise body temperature and worsen itching.
NOTE: The above information is educational purpose. The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition.
DISCLAIMER: This information should not substitute for seeking responsible, professional medical care.
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