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Understand the "Trichosporonosis" Factor that Causes Hair Disorder

Sep 21st 2015 at 7:11 AM

The fungus Trichosporon has a rather controversial history. This micro-organism was first observed in 1865 to cause benign hair infections. ‘Trichosporon’ is a term derived from the Greek words Trichos (which means hair) and sporon (which means spores), referring to the presence of asymmetrical nodules along the head hair. These nodules consist of fungal infectionsdescribed as ‘white piedra’ (with the term piedra being a Spanish word that means stone). Initially, this white piedra’s etiological agent was misclassified as the Pleurococcus beigelii. It was only in 1890 that the agent was properly classified as Trichosporon ovoides. Other Trichosporon species have been observed since. In 1902, all Trichosporon species were designated as Trichosporon beigelii.

Trichosporon and Hair Damage

The clinical presentation of Trichosporonosis in humans is often white or black piedra, which are superficial and benign lesions of hair. White piedra (also called tinea blanca) is characterized by soft nodules of arthroconidia and yeast cells that surround the hair shafts. Meanwhile, black piedra is caused by Piedraia hortae. These two types of piedra affect different body locations; white piedra typically attacks hair in the pubic area, beards, eyebrows, and mustaches, while black piedra affects the scalp. Interestingly they tend to manifest in different regions of the world, too. Black piedra is more commonly observed in tropical regions with high humidity and temperatures, including Southeast Asian and South American countries. White piedra is more commonly seen in semi-tropical and temperate climates such European and North Asian countries, as well some parts of the United States. In the United States, a majority of white piedra Trichosporonosisaffects children and young adults.

Risk Factors

There is a limited information on the mode of transfer of trichosporonosis, but risk factors seem to include poor hygiene as well as bathing/washing hair in contaminated water. Sexual transmissions have also been shown to play a role (in the case of pubic hair infections). There is currently no scientific consensus on the infection route taken by trichosporonosis to infect human beings, but close contact with someone who has the condition, hair humidity, and even the scalp hair’s length have been recognized as the major risk factors for trichosporonosis.

Trichosporonosis Hair Therapy

The genus Trichosporon has become increasingly relevant in contemporary medicine, butthe treatment of trichosporonosis is still a challenge. There is very limited data available on the effectiveness of anti-fungal drugs against this genus. That said, superficial trichosporonosis hair infections have been successfully treated by topical anti-fungal agents. However, white piedra is known to reoccur when the anti-mycotic is suspended. Some studies suggest that this disease may be treated by complete hair removal followed by anti-fungal therapy (topical or oral).

About the Author:

Dr. Rinky Kapoor is a world renowned Skin Specialist (Dermatologist), Dermato-surgeon expert and Cosmetic Dermatologist, and serves in fulfilling the growing demand in Hair, Skin and Nail care. She had been the co-founder of The Esthetic Clinic at Apollo Health City, Hyderabad and headed the Department of Cosmetic Dermatology and Lasers there from 2009-2011.

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