Which physical findings suggest tinea capitis (scalp ringworm)?

Updated: Feb 21, 2020
  • Author: Marc Zachary Handler, MD; Chief Editor: Dirk M Elston, MD  more...
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A variety of clinical presentations of tinea capitis are recognized as being inflammatory or noninflammatory and are usually associated with patchy alopecia. Physical examination with a hand lens or trichoscopy may be helpful in demonstrating the affected hairs. [15, 16, 17] The infection may be widespread, and the clinical appearances can be subtle, especially in black children with Trichophyton tonsurans infection, in whom the findings may mimic patches of seborrheic dermatitis with hair loss. In urban areas, tinea capitis should be considered in the differential diagnosis of children older than 3 months with a scaly scalp until proven negative by mycological examination. Infection may also be associated with painful regional lymphadenopathy, especially in the inflammatory variants.

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