Tinea capitis is a common fungal infection of the skin and hair of the scalp. It is more common in prepubertal children but may also occur in adlults. It is commonly called scalp ringworm due to its scaly ring-shaped appearance although it is not caused by worms.
Tinea capitis is caused by infection with a type of fungus called Dermatophyte which lives in either humans, soil or animals.
It usually presents with an itchy scaly circular rash of the scalp. A bald patch can also occur due to breakage of infected hair. In more severe cases there can be pustules(pus filled rash ) yellow crusts and rarely a painful boggy swelling filled with pus and scarring hair loss called a kerion.
Tinea capitis is contagious and spread through close contact with an infected person or by sharing personal items such as combs, towels, beddings and clothes. It is possible to get infected from pets.
It is suspected if there is a scaly itchy rash on the scalp and hair loss.
The diagnosis can be confirmed by taking skin scales from the scalp or plucking hair from affected areas and sending to a laboratory.
Tinea capitis is a curable condition but a person can be re-infected if the close contacts are not treated. The treatment is an oral antifungal (which can only be obtained n prescription) and a topical antifungal.