Barber’s itch, which is also called tinea barbae or ringworm of the beard is mainly a fungal skin infection that develops under the beard. However, it can also develop on the neck, chin, and upper lip. The cause behind barber's itch is two kinds of fungi named T. verrucosum (from cattle) and T. mentagrophytes var. equinum (from horses). This fungal infection is contagious and can even easily spread on the other parts of your body through direct contact. In most of the cases, men who have a beard on their face get affected by this infection, including other parts like chin, neck and upper lip. Barber's itch symptoms are noticeable if the fungal spores on the skin get the appropriate environment to multiply and grow. Onlymyhealth editorial team spoke to Dermatologist Dr. Nivedita Dadu, Dermatology clinic, to know about the symptoms, causes and treatment of barber's itch.
Barber's itch symptoms
One of the most symptoms of tinea barbae is a ringworm in the skin under the beard, with symptoms of a rash. This is mostly a circular red rash with scaly lesions. Barber’s itch can also cause itching and pain in some cases. Each and every individual gets affected by this fungal infection differently. And, the other less common symptoms caused by this fungal infection are fever and swelling in glands. The main symptoms of barber's itch are:
- Pus filled acne
- Hair loss
- Mild pain
- Ringworm rash under the beard
Barber's itch causes
Barber’s itch is basically a fungal infection that is commonly known as beard ringworm. The lesions or overgrowth results in fungal spores eating our dead skin cells, giving birth to a severe reaction on our skin. High blood sugar, HIV and certain medicines are risk factors of barber's itch. Listed below are the main causes of barber's itch or tinea barbae:
1. Direct contact
If you come in direct contact with people or animals who have fungal infections, then you are putting yourself at a higher risk of contracting the infection yourself. Skin on skin contact will also cause the fungus to choose another area of the skin as an environment to grow more. Therefore, you should avoid possible contagions, if you are aware that an animal or someone around you has the condition.
Stress can also have an impact on your immune system, making you more susceptible to contracting a fungal infection like barber’s itch. When you are having stress, it can send a message from your sympathetic nervous system to the immun system, indicating that you are in a life-threatening condition. Then, this will help in releasing the inflammatory chemicals, such as histamine and adrenalin, to increase your blood pressure levels.
3. Weak immune system
Our immune system helps in fighting against infections, thus protecting our body from bacteria and fungus. When this significant part of your body gets damaged or compromised, then you might be at a risk of contracting infections and harmful bacteria finds it easier to choose your body as a host. Comorbidities such as diabetes, obesity and hyperthyroidism can weaken your immune system and put you at a greater risk of getting fungal infections.
4. Poor hygiene
The bacteria or fungus grows and colonises in our body and it we do not maintain good personal hygiene and cleanliness, the amount of fungus and microbes keeps multiplying and then they can cause several infections. Sweating and humid monsoon weather conditions can also be a cause behind these infections, if not taken care properly. One must take a bath everyday with antibacterial or antifungal soaps, and use a dry towel to wipe themselves.
Barber's itch treatment
There are plenty of home remedies and lifestyle tips aimed at reducing your chances of contracting a fungal skin infection. If you feel as though your symptoms are persisting, please do not hesitate to speak to your doctor about further treatments. According to Dr. Nivedita, the two main parts of your barber's itch treatment plan include:
1. Topical antifungal creams
If you are suffering from a fungal infection like barber's itch, the doctor might prescribe you a particular anti fungal cream to apply it topically. And, to avoid the spread of fungal infections, you should keep the area dry and clean.
2. Anti allergic medicines
A person might experience red rash and itching in the ringworm underneath beard. In case of such fungal infections, anti allergic medications might be prescribed by your doctor to relieve you from the symptoms of itching and pus formation.
Dr. Nivedita does not recommend any home remedies and suggests to prefer medical treatment for such fungal infections. You can talk to your doctor about trying these home remedies for barber's itch:
1. Aloe Vera
Aloe Vera is a very useful home remedy and its gel is used for various skin and hair care benefits. It is beneficial for your health and can naturally treat barber's itch as well. Aloe vera gel provides a cooling and soothing effect on the affected area and helps in easing the symptoms of barber's itch such as itching, redness, and pain. According to many researches, aloe vera gel can also help in preventing certain infections if applied on a daily basis. You can find aloe vera gel easily in the markets and stores online. Apply aloe vera gel on the skin after cleaning it with soap and water.
2. Soap wash
A soap wash can also help in getting rid of barber's itch. You just have to clean the affected area with warm water and apply soap two times a day. Then, dry it off with a clean, dry towel. Do not share your towel with anyone, especially if you are having an infection. Moreover, try and use warm water and detergent to wash any clothes or towels that you may have touched around the ringworm underneath your beard.
These were the symptoms, causes and treatment for barber's itch by Dr. Nivedita Dadu. If you experience any of these symptoms, then consult a dermatologist for further diagnosis and treatment. You can talk to your doctor about trying natural remedies as well.
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