|Abstract||Tinea capitis, or scalp ringworm, is an infection caused by dermatophyte fungi mainly found in pre-pubertal children. It is characterised by infection of the hair of the scalp and scalp skin associated with symptoms and signs of inflammation and hair loss. Tinea capitis is an exogenous infection caused by dermatophytes which originate from sources including other children or adults (anthropophilic), animals (zoophilic) or soil (geophilic). The main signs are scaling and hair loss but acute inflammation with erythema and pustule formation may also occur. The dermatophytes that cause tinea capitis can invade other parts of the body such as the nails and the body, but rarely the feet or groins. Children or adults who have neither signs nor symptoms of infection, but from whose scalps causative fungi can be grown, are described as “carriers”.|
The epidemiology of tinea capitis is not static as movements of people provide the potential to introduce new species to different areas. For instance since the 1970’s there has been a progressive spread of infections caused by Trichophyton tonsurans through inner city areas of much of the USA and more recently in the UK and other European cities. By contrast Trichophyton schoenleinii, which causes a characteristic scalp infection, favus, is becoming less common, partly because its striking clinical appearances and the tendency to scar are recognised even in remote communities. Patients with favus, or their parents, are more likely to present for treatment.