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Symptoms and Signs of Ringworm on Scalp Pictures, Symptoms, Home Remedies, Treatment, and Cure

Doctor's Notes on Ringworm on Scalp Pictures, Symptoms, Home Remedies, Treatment, and Cure

Ringworm is a superficial fungal infection of the skin. It can occur anywhere on the body. When it affects the scalp, it is medically known as tinea capitis. Ringworm is contagious and can be spread from person to person. Ringworm of the scalp is particularly common in young children. The name ringworm comes from the early belief that the condition was due to a worm, which it is not. The fungi that cause the infection are known as Dermatophytes.

Signs and symptoms of ringworm include a red, scaly, rash that may crust over. It appears as round patches on the skin. Associated symptoms of scalp ringworm include patchy hair loss. Blistering and itching are additional symptoms of ringworm.

Ringworm on Scalp Pictures, Symptoms, Home Remedies, Treatment, and Cure Symptoms

The appearance of scalp ringworm can vary among affected individuals, but the most common signs are reddening, crusting, and scaling of the scalp. Intense itching usually occurs as well. Scalp ringworm can cause up to 50% of hair loss among children. Lymph nodes in the neck region may become enlarged with all types of scalp ringworm organisms, and some children may have high fevers. The specific pattern depends on the infecting organisms and how the immune system responds to the infection.

  • Black dot ringworm: The organism Trichophyton (T. tonsurans), which has become the most common fungus (causing most tinea capitis in the United States), causes black dot ringworm. This organism causes infections within the hair shaft. The hair becomes extremely brittle and breaks off at the surface of the scalp. The remaining portion of the hair is left behind in the follicle, creating the "black dot" appearance. Patches of hair loss commonly result.
  • Gray patch ringworm: The organism Microsporum, which was the most common fungus in the United States in the 1940s and 1950s but now is a rare cause of ringworm of the scalp, causes gray patch ringworm. Today, it is much less common in North and Central America but continues to be the dominant cause of scalp ringworm in Southern and Eastern Europe. In this pattern, the lesions start as small, red bumps around the hair shaft. The lesions then grow outward, forming red, scaly, and circular "rings" that are dry but not inflamed. All hairs in the infected area appear gray and dull, and they frequently break off. Numerous areas of hair loss result. Intense itching is common.
  • Inflammatory ringworm: Fungi from animals or soil commonly cause this inflammatory form of ringworm, which can look like areas containing small pustules or abscesses or kerion formations. Kerions are elevated boggy masses oozing pus and studded with broken hairs. Fever, pain, itchiness, and tender, enlarged lymph nodes are common. Inflammatory ringworm can result in permanent scarring and hair loss. Oral or topical steroids may sometimes be prescribed for treatment, depending upon the severity, although this has not been shown to reduce permanent hair loss.
  • NOTE: Once effective antifungal therapy has started, the child may develop a widespread "id" reaction. This involves itchy, raised blister-like bumps that begin on the face and then spread to the trunk. The body's immune response causes this reaction to the dermatophyte and is probably not an allergic reaction to the medication. Usually, the medication treatment does not need to be changed or discontinued. However, a person who notices these changes should talk with the doctor to make sure cause of the reaction is not potentially dangerous.

Ringworm on Scalp Pictures, Symptoms, Home Remedies, Treatment, and Cure Causes

Dermatophytes can be found in humans, other animals (most commonly household pets such as cats, dogs, and farm animals such as cattle), and soil. Fungal spores can be transmitted through contact with an infected person, fallen infected hairs, or contaminated objects. These may include objects such as combs and brushes, hats, movie theater seats, bedding, and clothing. Contact alone with one of these carriers may not be enough to cause an infection. However, coupled with minor trauma to the scalp, such as scratches or tight braiding, spores can enter the skin or hair shaft through the stratum corneum (a layer of the skin). Here, dermatophytes invade and digest the tissue's keratin (a type of protein) as the organisms grow.

Ringworm Treatment, Pictures, Causes, and Symptoms Slideshow

Ringworm Treatment, Pictures, Causes, and Symptoms Slideshow

Ringworm is a common fungal skin disorder otherwise known as "tinea" or dermatophytosis. It is caused by a fungus that can live on skin, surfaces like gym floors, and household items like towels, bedding, and clothes. While there are multiple forms of ringworm, the most common forms affect

  • the skin on the body
  • the scalp
  • the feet ("athlete's foot"), or
  • the groin ("jock itch").

Ringworm attacks dead tissues in places like the hair, nails, and leftover dandruff. But our bodies’ immune reactions and local bacterial infections enable ringworm to turn healthy, living skin red and itchy.


Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.