Tinea capitis is the most common dermatophyte infection in school age children in developing countries and is known to impact negatively on their health and well-being. This study determined the prevalence of T. capitis and its relationship with hygiene among primary school pupils in Ile-Ife. This descriptive cross-sectional study recruited randomly selected pupils from public and private schools in Ile-Ife from March to April 2017. The data was collected with the use of a pre–tested interviewer-administered questionnaire on hygiene followed by physical examination. Children with a clinical diagnosis of tinea capitis had scalp and hair scrapings for microscopy and culture. Data were analyzed using descriptive and inferential statistics. A total of 420 pupils participated, 240 (57.1%) males and 180 (42.9%) females aged between 4 and 16 years. The overall prevalence rate of T. Capitis infection was 21.7% with etiological agents consisting of Epidemophyton floccosum (12.0%), Microsporum gypseum (7.7%) and Trichophyton mentagrophytes (7.7%) while 33% grew Aspergillus niger (a contaminant) and no organism was isolated in 36 (39.6%) clinically diagnosed cases. The infection was prevalent among pupils sharing combs, had close contact with animals, playing with sand and lower socio-economic status. School type and personal hygiene were the major determinants of tinea capitis infection. Prevalence of T. capitis infection among school children was high and the infection is associated with poor level of hygiene and low socio-economic status. Health promotion and health education interventions are needed to promote good hygiene, early identification and treatment of the infection.
Key words: Tinea capitis, primary school children, poverty, hygiene.
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