Also known as tinea capitis, Ringworm is a fungal infection that affects the hair shafts along with the scalp. While symptoms may vary, some common indications are bald patches on the head, a scaly appearance on the scalp, itchiness, etc. Generally, treatment modalities include medications that eliminate the current fungi and sometimes administration of medicated shampoos to minimise the infection. There are cases where ringworm results in severe inflammation of the affected area causing scarring and subsequently, permanent hair loss.
Signs of ringworm
How does it occur?
While progressively expanding in size on the scalp, ringworm generally starts as a small pimple. Scaly patches of baldness are left behind as the fungus penetrates into the fibres of the hair. Particularly in affected areas, hairs break off easily leaving them brittle. Blisters may form and start oozing as the affected areas get itchy, red and scaly. Since they create a ring-like appearance, they are named ringworm.
Ringworm is contagious and spreads through human to human, object to human or animal to human contact. The disease is transmitted when there is direct skin-to-skin contact or when humans come in contact with objects used by an infected person. Often puppies and kittens are carriers of ringworm besides grown dogs and cats. Even children can contract ringworm when they pet an animal. The condition comes with several risk factors such as age, exposure to children, and exposure to pets.
Like any medical condition, ringworm of the scalp can cause complications such as Kerion. Painful and severe inflammation of the scalp is noted as there are soft and raised swellings. These form thick, yellow crusts on the scalp and even drain pus. Hair falls out or can be easily pulled out instead of being broken. When there is an overly vigorous reaction to a fungus, kerion may occur that even leads to permanent hair loss.
Treatment and prevention
While prevention of the fungal disease is fairly difficult because of its highly contagious nature, there are some things you can do to avoid it.