Ringworm (scalp)

Ringworm of the scalp (tinea capitis) is a fungal infection of the scalp and hair shafts. The signs and symptoms of ringworm of the scalp may vary, but it usually appears as itchy, scaly, bald patches on the head.

Ringworm of the scalp, a highly contagious infection, is most common in toddlers and school-age children.

Treatment for ringworm of the scalp includes medications taken by mouth to kill the fungi, as well as medicated shampoos that may lessen the spread of infection.

Some cases of ringworm of the scalp result in severe inflammation at the site of infection that may cause scarring or permanent hair loss.

Symptoms Causes Risk factors Complications Prevention

The signs and symptoms of ringworm of the scalp include:

  • One or more round patches of scaly skin where the hair has broken off at or just above the scalp
  • Patches that slowly expand or enlarge
  • Scaly, gray or reddened areas
  • Patches that have small black dots where the hair has broken off at the scalp
  • Brittle or fragile hair that easily pulls out
  • Tender or painful areas on the scalp

When to see a doctor

Several conditions affecting the scalp may have a similar appearance. See your child's doctor if your child has any hair loss, scaling or itchiness of the scalp, or other unusual appearance of the scalp. It's important to get an accurate diagnosis and prompt, appropriate treatment.

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