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All You Need to Know about Scalp Fungus


Scalp fungus, also known as tinea capitis, is a condition that causes ringworm to grow over your scalp. This basically is mold, scientifically called dermatophytes, which feeds on keratin, and damages the surface of the scalp, causing severe hair fall and degradation. Ringworm of the scalp is entirely different from that of the skin. This fungus lives in dampness and warmth, for instance, on the scalps of people who sweat a lot and have a wet scalp for long periods of time. Poor scalp hygiene aggravates this condition. Thankfully, there are hair loss treatment and inflamed scalp treatment to deal with this problem.

Causes of scalp fungus

Studies and trends suggest that children are at a higher risk of contracting scalp fungi, usually from pet cats. People who get ringworm have most probably contracted the fungus while wet or upon it coming in contact with cuts or abrasions on their body. Other common causes of scalp fungus include using public showers or pool areas open to public. People who often share private items like hairbrushes, or use unwashed clothes, are at a greater risk.

What are the symptoms?

When tinea capitis is found in adults, the symptoms can be different.

The most prominent sign is hair loss. Ringworm can make hair fall out in patches, or suffer gradual loss all over the scalp. Rashes called ‘papule’ develop around hair shafts, slowly becoming slowly as they spread. As they reach the top of the hair shaft, they deplete hair quality, giving it a patchy appearance. One can identify ringworm of the scalp by the fact that hair has broken off, and not fallen out.

These papules often acquire a ring-like shape, reddening and swelling up in the process. These patches cause itchiness and can often be wrongly diagnosed as seborrheic dermatitis/psoriasis.

Severe inflammation can follow the above symptoms. Sores, called kerions, and filled with pus, can cause fevers and swollen lymph nodes on the neck.


Fungus of the scalp cannot be diagnosed easily. This is because many skin problems, like psoriasis, can have similar symptoms and hence multiple tests are required to diagnose it properly. The dermatologist will take a scraping of the mold and perform a microscopic analysis to ascertain if it indeed is ringworm. Scalp fungi usually glow upon exposure to ultraviolet light.

Treating scalp fungus

Ringworm calls for immediate medical attention. One can prevent this condition by taking a balance diet, caring for their hair, and getting timely scalp treatment done, if needed. In the case of scalp fungus, one must visit a doctor at once and take precautions so as not to spread the infection to friends or family members. Usually prescribed medications include Ketoconazole, an anti-fungal infection. Over-the-counter products that can inhibit the further growth of scalp fungus are miconazole, clotrimazole and other similar compositions. Shampoos with 2.5% selenium sulphide can also control spore production. Treatment can be continued for at least 8 weeks, followed by proper hair loss treatment for the hair lost in this period.