This is article is written with Ilyse Lefkowicz, M.D. - Head & Shoulders dermatologist. Being a sufferer of scalp issues, she understands the importance of a scalp care system that delivers in technology and beauty benefits. Dr. Lefkowicz is a Board-Certified dermatologist specializing in general and cosmetic dermatology.
Tinea capitis is also known as scalp ringworm, but what does that actually mean, and how do you know if you have it? Read on to find out.
There are several forms of the problem that is tinea capitis. Related conditions include skin ringworm and athlete's foot.
Despite its common name – ringworm – it is actually caused by a mold-like fungus. It’s not a worm at all. The condition occurs when the fungus invades your hair shaft, damaging both your hair and scalp.
Tinea capitis: what to expect
Tinea capitis is contagious, and can be contracted from other people, animals or even objects that have come in contact with the fungus.
You’re more likely to get tinea capitis if you:
- Have minor skin or scalp injuries
- Don’t wash your hair and scalp often enough
- Have wet skin for long periods or sweat often
Once you have ringworm, you can expect symptoms that can include:
- Bald spot(s) with black dots where hair has broken off
- Round areas of scaly skin that become red and inflamed
- Tender and painful areas on your scalp
- Itchy scalp and hair loss
- Swollen lymph glands at the sides & back of neck
Not fun at all. Luckily, there is something you can do about it.
Treating tinea capitis
If you suspect you have tinea capitis, see your doctor immediately. They will be able to prescribe an anti-fungal treatment for you.
Usually, this will be in the form of oral medicine that kill the fungus. It’s also a good idea to ask for an anti-fungal shampoo, as this will help stop the spread of tinea capitis to others.
It’s important to note that the shampoo by itself won’t cure the problem – for that you’ll still need to take oral medication.