Scalp ringworm is a fungal infection of the scalp that can cause patchy hair loss. It is also known as tinea capitis. Scalp ringworm is most common in children, but can occur in adults as well. The fungus that causes scalp ringworm thrives in warm, moist environments. It can spread through direct contact with infected people or animals, or by sharing contaminated items such as hats, combs, or brushes. Treatment for scalp ringworm typically involves antifungal medications. In severe cases, oral antifungals may be necessary. Scalp ringworm is a treatable condition, but it can recur if not properly treated.
Causes of scalp ringworm
Scalp ringworm is usually caused by a fungal infection. The most common type of fungus that causes scalp ringworm is called trichophyton tonsurans. This fungus is found in soil and on the skin of humans and animals. It can be spread from person to person, or from contact with contaminated objects.
Symptoms of scalp ringworm
The most common symptoms of scalp ringworm are itchy, scaly patches on the scalp. The patches may be red, sore, or crusted. They may also spread beyond the hairline. In some cases, the scalp may also be swollen or tender.
Scalp ringworm can also cause hair loss (alopecia). The affected areas may have bald spots that are round or oval in shape. The hair may break off at the scalp surface or fall out in clumps. In some cases, the hair may never grow back.
Other symptoms of scalp ringworm may include:
- Swollen lymph nodes in the neck
- Burning or tingling of the scalp
- Soft, velvety patches on the skin
- Crusting or pus-filled bumps on the scalp
- Changes in hair texture, such as brittle or dry hair
- Changes in hair color, such as lighter or darker patches
Complications of scalp ringworm
Scalp ringworm can lead to complications, such as:
- Permanent hair loss. This is most likely to occur in children. The hair may grow back, but it may be permanently changed in color or texture.
- Secondary bacterial infections of the skin. These can lead to crusting and pus-filled bumps.
- Scarring. This can occur if the skin is severely damaged by the infection.
Treatment of scalp ringworm
Scalp ringworm is a treatable condition. The goal of treatment is to stop the spread of the fungus and clear the infection. Treatment typically involves antifungal medications. These can be applied to the skin as a cream, lotion, or shampoo.
In severe cases, oral antifungals may be necessary. These include drugs such as griseofulvin, itraconazole, and terbinafine.
Prevention of scalp ringworm
There is no sure way to prevent scalp ringworm. However, good hygiene practices can help reduce your risk of developing the infection. These include:
- Keeping your hair clean and dry
- Avoiding sharing personal items such as combs, brushes, or hats with others
- Washing your hands regularly
- Avoid contact with people who have scalp ringworm or other fungal infections.
Scalp ringworm is a common fungal infection that can cause patchy hair loss and other symptoms. Treatment typically involves antifungal medications, which can be applied to the skin or taken orally. Scalp ringworm is a treatable condition, but it can recur if not properly treated. Good hygiene practices can help reduce your risk of developing scalp ringworm.