Favus or tinea favosa is in most cases a severe form of tinea capitis. It is caused by the dermatophyte fungus Trichophyton schoenleinii and results in a honeycomb destruction of the hair shaft. Although rare, it may sometimes occur as onychomycosis, tinea barbae, or tinea corporis.
No cases of favus have been reported in New Zealand. It is also relatively uncommon in the United States, with most cases being confined to areas where malnutrition, poverty and sub-standard living conditions exist. Favus has been found in Poland, Southern and Northern Africa, Australia, Pakistan, Brazil, the Middle East and the United Kingdom.
Favus affects both males and females and occurs in both children and adults. Often the infection is caught during childhood or adolescence and persists into adulthood. It does not appear to be highly contagious but it is not uncommon for several family members to be infected, particularly where people are living very close to each other.
Favus is characterised by yellow cup-shaped crusts (scutula) that group together in patches like a piece of honeycomb, hence the name favus (Latin for “honeycomb”). Each crust encircles a strand of hair, which pierces the centre and pokes out.
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