Fungal Infection, Scalp (Tinea Capitis)

Tinea capitis is a scalp infection caused by a fungus. Tinea capitis is also called ringworm of the scalp or head. It is most common among children.

What increases my risk for tinea capitis?

Tinea capitis is spread by close contact with an infected person or pet. Your risk is increased if you share towels, hairbrushes, combs, barrettes, and hats with an infected person.

What are the signs and symptoms of tinea capitis?

  • Hair loss
  • Raised, scaly skin
  • Itchy scalp
  • Black dots on your scalp from broken hairs
  • Small, round bumps

How is tinea capitis diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider may be able to tell that you have tinea capitis by looking at your scalp. He may also gently scrape off some of your skin and look at the sample through a microscope. This will help him know the type of fungus that is causing your infection.

How is tinea capitis treated?

Tinea capitis is usually treated with antifungal medicine. It is given as a pill. Take the medicine until it is gone, even if your scalp looks better sooner. Your healthcare provider may also recommend an antifungal cream.

How can I prevent the spread of tinea capitis?

  • Use antifungal shampoo as directed. Use a clean towel each time you wash your hair. Do not scratch your scalp. This may cause the infection to spread to other areas of your scalp. If your child has an infection, he can go to school once he is using medicine and shampoo regularly.
  • Do not share personal items. Do not share towels, brushes, combs, or hair accessories.
  • Wash items in hot water. Wash all towels, clothes, and bedding in hot water. Use laundry soap. Wash brushes and combs, barrettes, and hats in hot, soapy water.
  • Keep your skin, hair, and nails clean and dry. Bathe every day. Wash your hands often.
  • Have infected pets treated by a veterinarian. A patch of missing fur is a sign of infection in a pet. Wear gloves and long sleeves if you handle an infected animal. Always wash your hands after handling the animal. Vacuum your home to remove infected fur or skin flakes. Disinfect surfaces and bedding that your animal comes into contact with.

When should I contact my healthcare provider?

  • You have a fever.
  • Your infection continues to spread after 7 days of treatment.
  • Other areas of your scalp become red, warm, tender, and swollen.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.