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Ringworm (Scalp)


Disease: Ringworm (Scalp) Ringworm (Scalp)
Category: Dermatological diseases
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Disease Definition:

Ringworm is a fungal infection that develops on the top layer of the skin; one of its several forms is ringworm. Causing red, itchy, bald-looking patches on the scalp, ringworm of the scalp is most common in toddlers and school-age children.

Ringworm of the scalp is also called tinea capitis and is closely related to other fungal infections with similar names, such as:

Jock itch (tinea cruris):
Inner upper thighs, buttocks and genitals are affected by this form.

Athlete's foot (tinea pedis):
Moist areas between the toes and sometimes on the foot itself can be affected by this form.

Ringworm of the body (tinea corporis):
On the top layer of the skin, this form causes a red, scaly ring or circle of rash.

Work Group:

Prepared by: Scientific Section

Symptoms, Causes


Ringworm of the scalp may cause some of these signs and symptoms:


  • Fragile or brittle hair that easily pulls out
  • Reddened, gray or scaly areas
  • One or more round patches of scaly skin where the hair has broken off at or just above the scalp
  • Tender or painful areas on the scalp
  • Patches that have small black dots if the child has dark hair
  • Patches that slowly expand or enlarge


If ringworm of the scalp is not treated, it's persistent and contagious. Through contact with pets and shared object or through person-to-person contact, ringworm spreads easily.

The parents should see a doctor if they suspect their child has ringworm of the scalp. To cure the infection, a prescription medication is needed.


Microorganisms that become parasites on the body are the cause of fungal infections, such as ringworm. The outer layer of the skin is attacked by these mold-like fungi, which also invade the hair shaft and result in its breaking.

Being contagious, ringworm can spread in the following ways:

Animal to Human:
Ringworm can spread to humans through horses, rabbits, dogs, goats, pigs, ferrets and cats. By grooming or petting an animal with ringworm, a child can contract ringworm.

Object to Human:
Through contact with objects or surfaces that an infected person or animal has touched, such as brushes, combs, bed linens, towels or clothing, ringworm can also spread.

Human to Human:
Through direct skin-to-skin contact with an infected person, ringworm can spread.

One of the risk factors for ringworm is exposure to other children. Close physical contact or touching common items like door handles can easily spread the infection, especially in schools and child care centers.

Overcrowded living conditions and poor hygiene are other risk factors to developing ringworm of the scalp.



Kerion, which is a severe, painful inflammation of the scalp, may sometimes result from ringworm of the scalp.
Kerion appears as soft, raised swellings that drain pus and cause thick, yellow crusting on the scalp. The hair may fall out or be easily pulled out instead of breaking. An overly vigorous reaction to the fungus may cause Kerion, which can lead to permanent scars and hair loss.


Ringworm of the scalp can be treated with these approved medications:


  • Terbinafine hydrochloride, an oral granule medication that can be sprinkled on food
  • Griseofulvin, which is taken by mouth as a liquid or tablet


For up to six weeks or more, the child may take one of these medications. Because medications that are applied directly to the head are less able to penetrate the scalp and hair, they aren't so effective.
Changes in the child's condition may not be noticed right away after starting the medication. However, the child still needs to continue taking the medication as directed by the doctor.


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