Tinea capitis (ringworm of the scalp) is a fungal scalp infection that can be cured with medication.
Tinea capitis occurs when a type of fungus infects the scalp and hair follicles. This can cause the scalp to itch, flake, swell, and become red. Fluid-filled sores might appear in the affected area, and hair may fall out in patches. In some cases a swollen, soft lump with many sores (called a kerion) develops, caused by the body's reaction to the fungus.
Tinea capitis needs to be treated with oral (taken by mouth) antifungal medications. In cases with a kerion, a steroid medication also might be needed to help reduce inflammation. Without treatment, scarring and permanent hair loss may occur.
Tinea capitis is contagious, but usually only spreads among people who have frequent close contact with each other, such as family members.
All A to Z dictionary entries are regularly reviewed by KidsHealth medical experts.
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