Tinea Capitis

What is 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 of 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 caregiver may be able to tell that you have tinea capitis by looking at your scalp. He may 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 may be given as a cream or pill. Take the medicine until it is gone, even if your scalp looks better sooner.

What are the risks of tinea capitis?

Even with treatment, tinea capitis may take weeks and sometimes months to go away. The fungus may spread and cause other skin infections. It may take months for your skin to heal and your hair to grow back. You may get tinea capitis more than once. Tinea capitis may cause permanent scarring and hair loss.

How can I prevent the spread of tinea capitis?

  • Use an antifungal shampoo: Ask your caregiver which shampoo to use. Wash your hair every day with this shampoo. 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.

  • Avoid infected pets: A patch of missing fur is a sign of infection in a pet. Take your infected pet to a veterinarian for treatment.

When should I contact my caregiver?

Contact your caregiver if:

  • 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.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

© 2013 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

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