What is ringworm of the scalp?

Dr. Jeanne Morrison, PhD
Family Practitioner
Tinea capitis, also known as scalp ringworm, is a highly contagious but treatable skin infection on the scalp. It is not actually a worm of any sort. The infection earned its name from the marks it leaves on the skin: ring-shaped patches. These patches can be patches of lost hair, scaly pink rashes, or irritated, pus-seeping sores. Children most commonly suffer from scalp ringworm, so you should keep an eye on your child's scalp and tell your doctor if you notice any of these patches.
Picture of tinea capitis

Despite its name, ringworm is a fungal infection, not a parasite. Two main types of ringworm infection are dependent upon the size of the fungal spores. Microsporosis leads to small-spore ringworm, while trichophytosis (the more common of the two) leads to large-spore ringworm infection.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.