Ringworm On Scalp
Ringworm on scalp or tinea capitis is a contagious fungal infection on scalp that affects the scalp and the hair shaft. It is not exactly what the name suggests, meaning it is not a worm but gets the name because the fungus makes circular marks on the scalp. This scalp infection is flat and circular in shape with raised borders. Ringworms on the scalp cause scaly skin and small hair patch.
Ringworm on scalp or tinea capitis can be very complicated. Certain cases can lead to severe inflammation that can cause scarring of hair or permanent hair loss. But what exactly is ringworm? Like any other fungus that grows on the feet, groin, or upper thighs is known as jock itch. But when fungus grows on the scalp it is called ringworm or tinea capitis. What alarms that the ringworms spread from person to person.
So what causes ringworm on scalp and tinea capitis ? This blog discusses the causes, symptoms, and ringworm on scalp treatment. We also discuss various ways to prevent ringworms on the scalp.
What Causes Ringworm on Scalp?
By now, we know that ringworms are actually caused by fungus on the scalp. These fungi are called dermatophytes that prefer warmth and moisture to thrive. Research says that 40 unique species of fungi can cause ringworm.
Ringworm on scalp, also known as tinea capitis mainly affects children, but any group can be affected by this contagious fungus. Ringworms can spread from one person to another by touching skin to skin, by sharing personal items such as hats, pillows, towels, or combs. It also spreads from animals to humans. Fungi grow well in warm and moist areas, so people living mostly in warm areas are likely to get more affected by ringworms.
Ringworm on head can also spread from pets such as dogs and cats. Since the ringworm infection on scalp thrive in warm and moist environments such as lockers rooms, public showers, or pools and can spread among people coming in close physical contact. That said, people who suffer from diabetes, obesity, or any other immunity-related problems are also likely to develop ringworms on the scalp.
Tinea capitis or Ringworm on scalp can spread in different ways. Here are the different ways how ringworms can actually spread:
Ringworms spread through skin to skin. If a ringworm infected person comes in direct contact with another person, the latter can develop ringworms.
Animals and pets, in general, are carriers of ringworms. Pets such as cats, dogs, and especially kittens and puppies are more prone to the condition. Among other animals that are prone to ringworm include cows, goats, horses and pigs. Be careful with your child when allowed to play with pets suffering from ringworms.
Besides human to human and animal to human contacts, ringworms can also spread from objects to humans. If an infected person has touched a surface or object, anyone coming in contact with these surfaces and objects can develop ringworms. Such objects include towels, clothes, bed linens, brushes and combs.
Now that we know the causes of ringworm on scalp, it is crucial to understand the risk factors of this tinea capitis condition. Below are the factors that are involved in ringworms:
The risk of ringworm is more in children than in adults. Ringworm in hair is mostly common in toddlers and school-aged children.
- Exposure to pets
Your domestic cat or dog may have the infection without any visible signs. Children can get infected simply by touching or petting them.
- Exposure to other children
Ringworms are seen more in children, and children coming in contact with other affected children are at higher risk. The spread of the infection is common in schools and child care centres where children come in contact with other children, and hence the infection can spread easily.
Signs & Symptoms of Ringworm on Scalp
There are several signs and symptoms of ringworm on scalp, but the most common symptoms of tinea capitis are small red bumps on scalp. This eventually may also lead to scalp pain. You may also experience scaling of the scalp. Over time, these bumps multiplied. From a small portion of the scalp, the infection can spread to a wider area.
Someone affected by ringworm on scalp will also experience itching, scaling, and pus inside the bumps. Section of the hair may break near the scalp or the affected area. It is somewhat like a bald spot or scalp psoriasis, and some spots will also have black dots where the hair is broken off. Ringworms can also take the face of seborrheic dermatitis; such bumps are not treated on time; they may spread to a larger area.
Here are some of the other symptoms of ringworm on scalp:
- Painful scalp
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Hair that is brittle and breaks off easily
- Fever that is below 100.4 and 102.2 degrees.
Ringworms on the scalp is somewhat folliculitis, where the infection occurs on the pockets of the scalp from which the hair grows. While dealing with ringworm on the scalp, one should know that the signs may also take an adverse turn. In severe cases, the ringworms may develop crusty outer swelling called keion that is filled with pus, which can further lead to permanent bald spots and scarring.
Treatment for Ringworm on Scalp
As we have discussed so far that ringworm on scalp or tinea capitis is highly contagious, anyone suffering from this condition should see the doctor immediately. The doctors usually prescribe medicated shampoos and oral medication to kill the fungus. Let understand the different ringworm on scalp treatment:
There are several antifungal medications to treat ringworm on scalp, but griseofulvin and terbinafine hydrochloride are the leading medications for tinea capitis condition. These are oral medications that usually have to be taken for six weeks. In most cases, the doctors prescribe to take these medications with high-fat food.
Besides oral medicines, your doctor might also prescribe you a medicated shampoo to get rid of the fungus on the scalp and curb its spread. That said, medicated shampoo doesn’t kill the fungus from spreading but kills the fungus. To kill the fungus, one must combine the treatment of shampoo with oral medication.
These medications are powerful and hence come with certain side effects. Some common side effects of these medications are stomach problems and diarrhoea. However, both the medications might also have other possible side effects that can be unique on their usage:
Side effects of griseofulvin:
- Sun sensitivity
- Stomach pain
- Liver problem
- Loss of taste of tongue
- In some cases allergy
How to Prevent Ringworm on Scalp?
Preventing ringworm on scalp is difficult because of its contagious nature. However, you can reduce the risk of spread of tinea capitis or the risk of the fungus by following these steps:
Make sure your child washes his or her hands often to avoid the spread of germs and the infection. If someone at home is already affected, keep the common area clean such as the washroom. Even places such as schools, child care centres, and gym locker rooms should be kept clean.
Wash your child’s head and scalp properly and regularly, especially after a haircut.
Teach your child not to share personal items such as hairbrushes, towels, or clothes with others.
Ringworm is very common in animals. The infection might look like a hair patch of skin missing hair. If your cat or dog or any other animal is exhibiting the same signs, consult with your vet to understand the issue and get your pet treated. Teach your child to wash hands each time after touching an infected animal.
Besides the doctor prescribed medications, you can have ringworm on scalp or tinea capitis treatment at home. Using antibacterial soaps, application of apple cider vinegar, tea tree oil and coconut oil on the affected areas.While you can take care of ringworms by taking all the medication and natural remedies, you can take care of your hair and scalp naturally by using Traya’s hair care products. The brand offers an extensive range of natural hair care regime from hair ras and shampoos to hair vitamins and scalp controller.
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Dr. Jaspreet Sarna, M.D
Dr. Sarna is an MD (Skin & VD) with a decade-long experience in treating hair loss and working on hair regrowth. She believes stress management is the key to good health.