What are the common causes of tinea capitis (scalp ringworm)?

Updated: Feb 21, 2020
  • Author: Marc Zachary Handler, MD; Chief Editor: Dirk M Elston, MD  more...
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Common causes of endothrix infection include T tonsurans, characterized by chains of large spores and T schoenleinii, characterized by hyphae with air spaces. Infected hairs break off sharply at the follicular orifice, leaving a conidia-filled stub or black dot. Suppuration and kerion formation (see the image below) commonly are associated with T tonsurans infection.

Typical lesions of kerion celsi on the vertex scal Typical lesions of kerion celsi on the vertex scalp of a young Chinese boy. Note numerous bright yellow purulent areas on skin surface, surrounded by adjacent edematous, erythematous, alopecic areas. Culture from the lesion grew Trichophyton mentagrophytes. Courtesy of Skin Diseases in Chinese by Yau-Chin Lu, MD. Permission granted by Medicine Today Publishing Co, Taipei, Taiwan, 1981.

In ectothrix infection, fragmentation of the mycelium into spores occurs just beneath the cuticle. In contrast to endothrix infection, destruction of the cuticle occurs. This type of infection is caused by T verrucosum, T mentagrophytes, and all Microsporum species.

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