Fungal infections of the scalp are caused by dermatophytes. Dermatophytes are fungi adapted to living on skin. Scalp fungus is generally not dangerous, but it can be if there is an underlying disease such a cancer, diabetes or an immune disorder.
Skin infections caused by dermatophyte fungi are commonly called ringworm. Ringworm gets its name from the scaly, concentric rings that often form on the skin (although there are no worms involved).
Fungal infection of the scalp and hair is known clinically as Tinea capitis. It is characterized by rough, scaly patches on the skin of the head or infection of hair shafts.
Scalp fungus is most common in children. The infection is spread by infected children sharing hats, combs or hair bushes or by spending time close together in crowded conditions. The fungus can be transmitted to humans by animals.
Over-the-counter medicated shampoos are available to treat scalp fungus. Some websites claim that salt and vinegar, mild bleach or nail polish are effective cures. Proper treatment as recommended by a doctor is the best approach.
Over-the-counter antifungal creams containing miconazole or clotrimazole are effective for mild cases. Severe infections may require prescription creams containing ketoconazole or oral antifungals such as terbinafine, itraconazole, fluconazole or griseofulvin.
- The Fungous Diseases of Man, 1965, J. W. Wilson, O. A. Plunkett, University of California Press, Berkeley, CA