Ringworm of the scalp (tinea capitis) is a fungal infection that grows in the outer layer of the scalp and in the hair. It is not caused by a worm. The infection often looks like round, bald patches. Most often, the infection spreads outward while the inside of the circle clears up. This makes the infection look like a ring.

The infection also causes red, sore, irritated areas that may have pus (abscesses); broken, crusted, matted hair; dead skin flakes (dandruff); and hair loss that results in round or oval bald patches.

Ringworm is contagious. It can be spread easily by contact with people, objects, or animals infected with or carrying the fungus. Some carriers can have and spread ringworm without actually having symptoms of infection.

Standard treatment for ringworm of the scalp includes prescription antifungal medicine and, usually, special shampoos.

Current as of: October 5, 2017

Author: Healthwise Staff

Medical Review: Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & Martin J. Gabica, MD - Family Medicine & John Pope, MD, MPH - Pediatrics