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Follicle death starts at childhood! Tinea Capitis (Cradle Cap) and more!

Updated: Dec 8, 2023

Tinea Capitis is a fungal infection of the scalp, often affecting children but can occur in adults too. It's caused by various dermatophyte fungi, such as Trichophyton and Microsporum. These fungi thrive on dead skin tissues, hair, and nails.



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Symptoms include itching, redness, scaling, and sometimes hair loss in affected areas. The infection can spread through direct or indirect contact with an infected person or contaminated objects like combs, hats, or pillows.


Treatment typically involves antifungal medications, either topical or oral, depending on the severity. It's essential to complete the full course of treatment to prevent recurrence. Maintaining good hygiene practices and avoiding sharing personal items can also help prevent its spread.


Trichophyton and Microsporum are both genera of fungi known as dermatophytes, which cause various fungal infections, including Tinea Capitis (scalp ringworm).

  1. Trichophyton:

    • Commonly Affects: Skin, hair, and nails.

    • Varieties: Different species within Trichophyton can cause athlete's foot, ringworm, and jock itch.

    • Transmission: Human-to-human, animal-to-human, or contact with contaminated surfaces.

    • Appearance: Typically, Trichophyton infections result in circular, scaly lesions with raised borders.


  1. Microsporum:

    • Commonly Affects: Skin and hair.

    • Varieties: Known for causing ringworm, especially in animals. Infections are often named after the host species, like Microsporum canis (from cats and dogs) or Microsporum audouinii (from humans).

    • Transmission: Primarily through contact with infected animals or their environment.

    • Appearance: Infections may lead to circular, red, and scaly patches with a more pronounced inflammatory response.


Both of these fungi thrive on keratin, a protein found in the skin, hair, and nails. Proper diagnosis and treatment, often involving antifungal medications, are crucial for managing infections caused by Trichophyton and Microsporum.


  1. Direct Contact:

    • Person-to-Person: Close contact with an infected person, especially if they have lesions on their scalp.

    • Animals: Contact with infected animals, as some fungi can be transmitted from pets to humans.


  1. Indirect Contact:

    • Contaminated Objects: Using items that have touched an infected person's scalp, like combs, brushes, hats, or pillows.

    • Shared Spaces: Using communal spaces like locker rooms, swimming pools, or shared showers where the fungi can thrive.


  1. Poor Hygiene:

    • Infrequent Washing: Fungi thrive in warm, moist environments. Infrequent washing of the hair and scalp can contribute to the growth of these fungi.


  1. Weakened Immune System:

    • Individuals with compromised immune systems are more susceptible to fungal infections, including Tinea Capitis.


To prevent infection or its recurrence:

  • Maintain Good Hygiene: Regularly wash and shampoo hair.

  • Avoid Sharing Personal Items: Do not share combs, brushes, hats, or other personal items.

  • Practice Animal Care: If you have pets, ensure they are healthy and receive veterinary care to prevent the spread of fungal infections.


Fungi, including dermatophytes like Trichophyton and Microsporum that cause Tinea Capitis, do not have favorite foods in the way bacteria might. These fungi feed on keratin, a protein found in human hair, skin, and nails. They thrive in environments where keratin is abundant.

To prevent and treat fungal infections like Tinea Capitis, it's essential to disrupt the conditions that favor their growth. This includes maintaining good hygiene practices, avoiding contact with infected individuals or contaminated objects, and using antifungal medications as prescribed by a healthcare professional.


Dermatophytes, like Trichophyton and Microsporum, thrive in warm, humid conditions. Several factors contribute to the growth and spread of these fungi:

  1. Warmth: Fungi prefer warm temperatures, typically ranging from 77 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit (25 to 30 degrees Celsius).

  2. Humidity: High humidity provides the moisture these fungi need to flourish. Fungal infections are more common in environments with elevated humidity levels.

  3. Poor Ventilation: Inadequate airflow and poor ventilation contribute to the accumulation of moisture, creating an environment conducive to fungal growth.

  4. Shared Spaces: Places where people share personal items or come into close contact, such as locker rooms, swimming pools, and communal showers, increase the risk of transmission.

  5. Contaminated Objects: Sharing items like combs, brushes, hats, or pillows with an infected person can spread the fungi.

  6. Compromised Immune System: Individuals with weakened immune systems are more susceptible to fungal infections.

  7. Animal Contact: Some dermatophytes can be transmitted from animals to humans. Close contact with infected pets or their environments may contribute to infections.

To prevent the growth and spread of these fungi, maintaining good personal hygiene, keeping living spaces well-ventilated, and avoiding contact with contaminated objects are crucial. If you suspect an infection, seeking prompt medical attention is essential for proper diagnosis and treatment.


Tinea Capitis, caused by dermatophytes like Trichophyton and Microsporum, primarily leads to scalp-related issues. However, the infection can have various manifestations and may cause the following scalp disorders:

  1. Ringworm (Tinea): Tinea Capitis is a type of ringworm that affects the scalp. Other forms of tinea, such as Tinea Corporis (body), Tinea Cruris (groin), or Tinea Pedis (foot), can occur elsewhere on the body.

  2. Folliculitis: Inflammation of hair follicles may occur, leading to red, pus-filled bumps on the scalp.

  3. Kerion: This is a severe form of Tinea Capitis characterized by painful, swollen, and inflamed lesions on the scalp. It can lead to scarring and permanent hair loss if not treated promptly.

  4. Secondary Bacterial Infections: Scratching the affected areas can create openings in the skin, making it susceptible to bacterial infections.

  5. Temporary Hair Loss: In some cases, Tinea Capitis can cause temporary hair loss in the affected areas.


Dermatophytes, such as Trichophyton and Microsporum, primarily cause Tinea Capitis, a fungal infection of the scalp. However, these fungi can also be responsible for other types of Tinea infections affecting different parts of the body. Here are some examples:

  1. Tinea Corporis (Ringworm of the Body): Dermatophytes can cause ringworm on areas of the skin other than the scalp. It typically appears as circular, red, and scaly rashes on the body.

  2. Tinea Cruris (Jock Itch): This infection affects the groin area and inner thighs, often resulting in red, itchy rashes. It can be caused by dermatophytes like Trichophyton.

  3. Tinea Pedis (Athlete's Foot): Dermatophytes, including Trichophyton, can cause athlete's foot, affecting the skin between the toes and on the soles of the feet.

  4. Tinea Unguium (Onychomycosis): Fungal infections of the nails, particularly the toenails, can be caused by dermatophytes.

While Tinea Capitis specifically targets the scalp, these other Tinea infections involve different parts of the body. The commonality is that they are all caused by dermatophytes, and treatment typically involves antifungal medications.


To prevent and manage fungal infections, especially those caused by dermatophytes like Trichophyton and Microsporum, here are nine things you can consider:

  1. Maintain Good Hygiene:

    • Regularly wash and shampoo your hair.

    • Keep your body clean, paying attention to areas prone to fungal infections.


  1. Avoid Sharing Personal Items:

    • Do not share combs, brushes, hats, or other personal items, especially in communal settings.


  1. Promote Air Circulation:

    • Ensure good ventilation in living spaces to reduce humidity and discourage fungal growth.


  1. Keep Skin Dry:

    • Towel-dry thoroughly after bathing or swimming.

    • Change out of wet clothes promptly, especially in warm and humid conditions.


  1. Practice Safe Animal Contact: