Tinea Capitis: Types, Symptoms, Treatment

Tinea capitis (generally known as ringworm of the scalp) is a general fungal infection that affects the hair and scalp follicles. Despite its name, this infection is not caused by a worn but by many types of fungi known as dermatophytes. This infection is very contagious and causes symptoms like a hair loss, itchy scalp, and redness.

Fortunately, there are successful treatments accessible to help reduce symptoms. The gold standard treatment for tinea capitis is antifungal drugs, but some home remedies can also help support your scalp health.

Types of tinea capitis

A fungus is known as dermatophytes cause tinea capitis. More specially, the Trichophyton and Microsporum species of fungi are the initial culprits of this infection. These fungi can invade the protective outside layer of your hair follicles and sometimes attack the hair shaft itself. If you develop these fungi, you may experience once of the 2 types of tinea capitis:

Inflammatory tinea capitis: Causes important inflammation on your scalp, which may causes swelling, redness, tenderness, pus-filled bumps, and pain on your scalp or hair loss in extreme cases.

Non-inflammatory tinea capitis: Do not cause important inflammation or hair loss, but swelling and scaly patches may occur.


With the name “ringworm” may imply a parasitic worm, the culprit behind this situation is not a worm at but rather a fungi group called as dermatophytes. These fungi thrive on keratin, a protein found in your nails, hair, and the outermost layer of your skin.

Tinea capitis is very contagious and the following factors can raise your risk of developing symptoms:

Making direct contact with any person who has the infection, such has touching the hair or sharing hair brushes and hats.

  • Living in humid and hot climate where these fungi can thrive and expand more easily
  • Having scrapes or cuts on your scalp, making it easy for fungi to penetrate the skin
  • Not washing your hair often enough, mainly after rigorous or sweating workout


A healthcare provider can generally diagnose tinea capitis by examining your scalp. They may use a special light test known as Woods lamp test, to light up the scalp and look for infections signs. You can also use Olight Arkfeld Pro Flat EDC flashlight

with UV rays to look out the signs of infections.

The healthcare provider may take a hair or skin sample to look for the attendance of fungi. That is generally done with a KOH prep test, which involves scrapping an affected hair or skin area onto a slide. KOH is added to the sample, which causes it to break apart and makes the fungi easier to view under a microscope.

If the KOH test does not verify a diagnosis, a healthcare provider might order a fungal culture test that permits fungi to grow and to be identified. This test is more right than the KOH stain.

How to treat

Treatment options for Tinea capitis contain oral antifungal drug and medicated shampoos. The fungal infections may take up to 1 month to cure fully. You may need to visit trichologist after four to five weeks to view if the treatment is working.

Oral antifungal medications

The trichologist may advise starting oral antifungal drug as soon as the Tinea Capitis infection is suspended. Anyway, some trichologist may also wait for the laboratory report that show the right fungal species and begin treatment accordingly. Topical antifungal do not work for Ringworm as they cannot penetrate inside the skin or hair.

The successful oral antifungal drugs for treatment of Tinea Capitis contain terbinafine hydrochloride and griseofulvin. The treatment is given for about four to eight weeks. Terbinafine is not given to kids as there are no safely and efficacy studies done for this medication yet. Both terbinafine hydrochloride and griseofulvin can cause bad effects such as vomiting and diarrhea. Other antifungal treatments used contain fluconazole and itraconazole.

Antifungal shampoos

Shampoos containing antifungal agents such selenium sulphide or ketoconazole can be used twice weekly, to help stop fungal infection from spreading. It is also advised to be used while you take antifungal drugs to stop recurrence of infection.

How to stop ringworm of the scalp

Preventing tinea capitis involves adopting best hygiene practices and taking precautions to reduce your risk of fungal infections. Here are some steps you can take to stop this infection:

  • Wash your scalp and hair regularly with a mild shampoo.
  • Avoid excessive scratching of the scalp, as it can lead to skin breaks, making it easier for fungi to enter.
  • Reduce close contact with people with tinea capitis or other contagious infections until they have got treatment and no longer contagious
  • Limit sharing combos, hats, hairbrushes, towels, scarves, pillowcases, or other personal items with others.
  • Reduce close contact with people with tinea capitis or other contagious infections until they have got treatment and are no longer contagious.

Additionally, if you or any person in your household develops tinea capitis symptoms, seek medical attention carefully. Early treatment can help stop the spread of the infection to others.


What might tinea capitis be confused with?

Tinea capitis can be generally confused with other hair and skin issues like alopecia, dandruff, eczema, dermatitis, or psoriasis of the scalp due resemblance in some general symptoms.

Are there any concurrent issues that exist with Tinea capitis?

Tinea capitis infection can cause concurrent issues such as painful papules, bacterial infection. It may lead to swelling and inflammation of lymph nodes in the neck area.

What are the uncommon concurrent issues that happen with Tinea Capitis?

In strange cases the itchy papules may also spread to neck, face, and trunk area.

Are there any misconceptions about Tinea Capitis ringworm?

The most general misconception about Tinea Capitis is that it can treated using topical antifungal agents, anyway, the experts have advice that Tinea Capitis infection spread to the hair shaft and inside skin layers and hence need to be treated with oral antifungal agents. Another, general held misconceptions about Tinea Capitis are that it can just spread from one person to another.  But the fact is farm animals or pet can also carry the fungus and spread infection seriously.

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