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General Practice 2023

Scalp ringworm: symptoms, causes and treatment

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Scalp ringworm: symptoms, causes and treatment
Scalp ringworm: symptoms, causes and treatment
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Scalp ringworm, also known as Tinea capitis or capillary tinea, is a skin infection caused by fungi, which can cause intense itching, the presence of dandruff or yellow crusts on the head, in addition to hair loss in some regions of the scalp, for example.

This type of ringworm is mainly caused by fungi of the Trichophyton or Microsporum genus, which can be found in the outer layers of the skin of the scalp and on the hair shaft, and are easily transmitted from person to person, through contact direct or sharing combs, towels or hats.

Treatment of ringworm on the scalp should be recommended by the dermatologist, who usually recommends the use of shampoos or antifungal tablets, and it is important that the treatment is carried out according to medical advice to prevent the fungus from growing again and cause the symptoms again.

Main symptoms

Symptoms of ringworm on the scalp arise when the fungus proliferates on the skin of the scalp or on the hair shaft, and may vary according to the type of fungus, with the most characteristic signs being:

  • Intense itching of the head;
  • Rounded patches or spots on scalp skin;
  • Pain or slight redness in the area;
  • Local peeling;
  • Presence of dandruff;
  • Black spots on the scalp;
  • Areas with thinning hair or broken strands;
  • Yellow crusts in hair;
  • Pain or increased sensitivity in the scalp.

Although rare, in addition to these symptoms, some people may still have sore neck sores, due to the immune system's response to fight the fungal infection.

In addition, in some cases, inflammation of the scalp skin caused by Tinea capitis can lead to swelling, blistering and pus in the affected region, this situation being known as kerion, and can lead to loss hair perm. Know how to identify all the symptoms of Tinea capitis.

How the diagnosis is made

The diagnosis of mycosis on the scalp is made by evaluating the symptoms presented by the person and analyzing the affected scalp regions. To confirm the diagnosis and the responsible fungus, the doctor may perform a lesion scraping, which consists of removing some skin cells, in addition to collecting a hair sample, and analyzing them under a microscope in order to identify the fungus and, thus, start the most appropriate treatment.

Possible causes

Scalp ringworm is caused by fungi of the genus Trichophyton or Microsporum that attack and grow the outer layer of skin on the scalp and hair shaft.

These fungi can be transmitted through direct contact with the hair of an infected person or by sharing objects that are used in the hair, such as combs, towels, elastic bands, hats or pillowcases, for example.

Generally, this type of ringworm is more common in children, as they have a greater tendency to lean their heads and share objects that are in contact with their hair, such as bands, elastic bands and hats.

How the treatment is done

The treatment for ringworm on the scalp is performed by the dermatologist with the aim of eliminating the fungus that causes ringworm.

Top treatments for ringworm on the scalp include:

1. Antifungal Remedies

Some of the most commonly used and dermatologist-recommended oral antifungals include griseofulvin and terbinafine, which should be taken for about 4 to 8 weeks, even if symptoms have improved.

In case the person has kerion, the doctor may also recommend the use of corticosteroids in the form of pills, to help reduce inflammation in the skin of the scalp and reduce the risk of permanent hair loss. These corticosteroids can be used for a short period of time along with oral antifungals.

2. Antifungal shampoos

In addition to oral remedies, the doctor may also advise that hair hygiene be carried out with an antifungal shampoo, which contains ketoconazole or selenium sulfide, to remove the fungus and prevent the transmission of ringworm to other people or for other areas of the scalp.

Shampoos help to quickly relieve symptoms, but do not completely prevent the development of fungi. Therefore, it is always recommended to use shampoos together with antifungal oral remedies prescribed by the dermatologist.

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