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Background: Tinea capitis is a superficial fungal infection of the scalp and hair of the head
which is common in children aged between two and eleven years. An endothrix infection is
best treated using parenteral antifungal drugs while an ectothrix one may be treated by
parenteral or topical antifungal drugs. The organism that commonly causes tinea capitis in
the Western world is Trichophyton tonsurans while there is inadequate information on the
actual causative agent in Kenya.
Objectives: To determine the prevalence and the aetiology of tinea capitis and the fungal
agents responsible for it and; to recommend the correct mode of treatment in school children
attending a primary school near Eldoret.
Design: Prospective and descriptive study.
Setting: Private primary school near Eldoret town.
Subjects: Sixty eight primary school children aged between six and 14 years in classes 1 to 5.
Results: Of the 68 pupils included in the study, 60.9% and 39.1 % were males and females,
respectively. Prevalence of tinea capitis in the school was 33.3%. Peak age of infection was
10 years. Ratio of infected males to females was 2: 1. There was a growth on culture in 76.1 %
of the cases all of which were endothrix. T. tonsurans was isolated in 77.8%, T. rubrum in four
per cent of the cases.
Conclusion: The prevalence of tinea capitis in this school was high. The most common cause
of tinea capitis was T. tonsurans. Males were more infected than the females.
Recommendatiorzs: Oral antifungal drugs with griseofulvin being the first line of treatment
should be adopted. Health education on the aetiology, treatment and prevention of tinea
capitis should be given.

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The East African Medical Journal is published monthly by Kenya Medical Association.

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