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Scalp ringworm – symptoms and causes

Scalp ringworm

Scalp ringworm is a type of skin infection which is caused by a fungus. Scalp ringworm is also known as tinea capitis. We have this condition on our hair shafts and the scalp. There are many signs and symptoms of this condition. But the most common signs and symptoms are scaly, itchy and bald patches on your head. Children have the biggest chances to get scalp ringworm [1]. There are many antifungal medications which can help you to get a relief from this condition. [2] In a period of several weeks you should use these medications and they can help you. A lot of people think that this is a kind of worm when they hear this term, but this is a kind of a fungal skin infection. There are many different types of fungi which can infect our hair, nails and skin.

Symptoms of scalp ringworm

There are many symptoms of this condition and here are some of the most common symptoms

  • If you have a severe infection such as pustules or kerion, then you can get fever (or a high temperature) and also the glands in your neck may swell.
  • There are small numbers of cases which develop a more severe infection. In the section of your scalp you will have a large boggy swelling that is known as kerion. This can be tender and oozing and if you not treating it in its early stages, then this can lead to hair loss and permanent scarring.
  • Also there are some cases in which pustules (which are painful boils) develop on your scalp.
  • Also there are some cases in which you have infections and this leads to patches of hair loss which means that bald patches are developing. These bald patches are very scaly and inflamed. In these bald patches there can be small broken – off hairs that still remain in it. [1]
  • When you have scalp ringworm, then this looks like severe dandruff that you have on various places on your scalp. Many people are making mistakes with this condition and often they think that they have psoriasis.

How can you get scalp ringworm infection?

  • In the most cases people can get scalp ringworm when they are in touch from person to person when they are touching themselves or when they are sharing the same towels. [3]
  • Fungi and their spores can remain alive on sheets, furniture, unwashed towels, brushes and combs. [3]
  • There are some people who are carriers of fungi which mean that they have fungi on their hair and skin. These fungi do not invade in their skins to cause some symptoms or infections. But this part of people can pass the fungi to other people which are a reason why they develop some symptoms of scalp ringworm.
  • From animals: Some cats, dogs and other pets can have fungal infections on their skin and they can pass this kind of infection to people especially the can pass to children. You should visit the vet if you think that some of your pet is a reason for this condition. The vet can give you the right treatment for your pet. Also if you have farm animals they can be a reason for scalp ringworm. When you touch a farm gate where the infected farm animals are passing through, then this can be enough reason to get this kind of infection to your skin. [4,5]

Scalp ringworm

  • No apparent reason: We know that the fungi are very common. If some person is infected with fungal spores, then these spores can get in the air which means that the chances of getting fungal scalp ringworm are increased. This is possible because the fungi spores can be in the air and then land in the scalp of another person. [3]

In the most cases young children have the biggest chances to get scalp ringworm. This is not so common condition in adults. This is possible because the sebum is increasing after we have passed our teenage years. This means that our scalp is more resistant to fungi compared with the teenage years. In some cases doctors think that this is just a fungal infection and in many cases it is confused with other conditions. There are some cases when we think that we have bad dandruff or psoriasis. In these cases the fungal infection is a reason why we can have hair loss or bald patches. [1] Your doctor will take scraping of the infected areas or a hair sample to be sure what you suffer from.

Above are symptoms and causes of Scalp ringworm.


[1] Hoffer L, Shvarts S, Segal-Engelchin D. Hair loss due to scalp ringworm irradiation in childhood: health and psychosocial risks for women. Israel Journal of Health Policy Research. 2020.

[2] Chen X, Jiang X, Yang M, et al. Antifungal medicines for treating children with ringworm. Cochrane. 2016. Retrieved from

[3] Jain A, Jain S, Rawat S. Emerging fungal infections among children: A review on its clinical manifestations, diagnosis, and prevention. Journal of Pharmacy and Bioallied Sciences. 2010;2(4):314–20.

[4] Pasquetti M, Min ARM, Scacchetti S, et al. Infection by microsporum canis in paediatric patients: A veterinary perspective. Veterinary Sciences. 2017;4(3):46.

[5] Kligman AM. Pathophysiology of ringworm infections in animals with skin cycles. The Journal of Investigative Dermatology. 1956:171-85.

Merlin Joy
Merlin Joy
Holding a doctorate degree, Dr. Merlin Joy AKA Sinatra developed passion for home remedies from her mother, grand father and grandmother. Sinatra loves to read books and hiking. You can contact her through [email protected]



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