This topic is about
ringworm of the scalp or beard. For information about other
fungal infections, see the topics:
is an infection on your skin, hair, or nails. It is caused by a
fungus. Ringworm of the scalp occurs in children and
adults all over the world. It is most common in young children. Ringworm of the
beard is not common.
Ringworm is not caused by a worm. Ringworm
infections are caused by a fungus. The kinds of fungi (plural of fungus) that
cause ringworm live and spread on the top layer of the skin and on the hair.
Ringworm is contagious. It spreads when you come into close
contact with a person or animal that has it. It can also spread when you share
hats, combs, brushes, towels, clothing, and other items. Children get ringworm
more often than adults.
If an adult gets ringworm, he or she will
most likely become a carrier of the ringworm fungus. Carriers can pass ringworm
on to others but do not have symptoms of the disease.
You can also
get ringworm by touching an infected dog or cat, although this form of ringworm
Ringworm of the
beard often looks like round, bald patches. Most
often, the infection spreads outward while the inside of the circle clears up.
This makes the infection look like a ring. The name "ringworm" comes from this
But ringworm of the scalp or beard doesn't always make a
ring pattern. Sometimes it just looks like dandruff. In some cases the hair
breaks off, leaving stubble that looks like black dots. Sometimes people get
ringworm but do not have any symptoms
In the most severe cases,
the infected area is swollen, red, crusty, and painful, with small bumps that
look like blisters.
Ringworm is contagious, meaning it can spread
from one person to another easily. If you or someone in your family has the
symptoms listed above, see your doctor.
If you have a ring-shaped rash, you very likely have ringworm. Your
doctor will be able to tell for sure. He or she will probably look at a hair or
skin sample under a microscope to check for the ringworm fungus. You may have
other tests. But most of the time, none are needed.