Ringworm of the scalp (tinea capitis) is a fungal infection that grows in the outer layer of the scalp and in the hair. The infection is not caused by worms but is called "ringworm" because it produces a rash with small, blisterlike bumps on the edges that look like worms.
The infection also causes red, sore, irritated areas that may have pus (abscesses); broken, crusted, matted hair; dead skin flakes (dandruff); and hair loss resulting in round or oval bald patches.
Ringworm is contagious. It can be spread easily by contact with people, objects, or animals infected with or carrying the fungus. Some carriers can have and spread ringworm without actually having symptoms of infection.
Standard treatment for ringworm of the scalp includes prescription antifungal medicine and, usually, special shampoos.
Last Revised: March 8, 2011
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review: Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & Alexander H. Murray, MD, FRCPC - Dermatology
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