Tinea capitis (also known as “Herpes tonsurans”, “Ringworm of the hair,” “Ringworm of the scalp,” “Scalp ringworm”, and “Tinea tonsurans”) is a superficial fungal infection (dermatophytosis) of the scalp. The disease is primarily caused by dermatophytes in the Trichophyton and Microsporum genera that invade the hair shaft. The clinical presentation is typically single or multiple patches of hair loss, sometimes with a ‘black dot’ pattern (often with broken-off hairs), that may be accompanied by inflammation, scaling, pustules, and itching. Uncommon in adults, tinea capitis is predominantly seen in pre-pubertal children, more often boys than girls. At least eight species of dermatophytes are associated with tinea capitis. Cases of Trichophyton infection predominate from Central America to the United States and in parts of Western Europe. Infections from Microsporum species are mainly in South America, Southern and Central Europe, Africa and the Middle East. The disease is infectious and can be transmitted by humans, animals, or objects that harbor the fungus. The fungus can also exist in a carrier state on the scalp, without clinical symptomatology. Treatment of tinea capitis requires an oral antifungal agent; griseofulvin is the most commonly used drug, but other newer antimycotic drugs, such as terbinafine, itraconazole, and fluconazole have started to gain acceptance.
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