Tinea capitis

  • Definition

    Tinea capitis is a fungal infection of the scalp. It is also called ringworm of the scalp.

    Alternative Names

    Fungal infection - scalp; Infection - fungal - scalp; Tinea of the scalp; Ringworm - scalp

    Causes, incidence, and risk factors

    Fungi are a type of germ that can live on the dead tissue of the hair, nails, and outer skin layers. The body normally hosts a variety of fungi. Tinea capitis is caused by by mold-like fungi called dermatophytes.

    The fungi that cause tinea infections do well in warm, moist areas. A tinea infection is more likely if you have:

    • Minor skin or scalp injuries
    • Poor hygiene
    • Wet skin for a long time (such as from sweating)

    Tinea capitis or ringworm can spread easily to others. It most often affects children and goes away at puberty. However, it can occur at any age.

    Tinea infections are contagious. You can catch tinea capitis if you come into direct contact with an area of ringworm on someone else's body, or if you touch items such as combs, hats, or clothing that have been used by someone with ringworm. The infection can also be spread by pets, particularly cats.