Mycosis of the scalp (pityriasis)

Scalp ringworm (also known as tinea capillaries or pityriasis) is a fungal infection that causes itching and scaling. The fungus normally exists on the scalp and can be activated by factors such as stress, excessive sweating, changing the pH of the scalp, etc.
The most common symptoms are itchiness and the appearance of flaking that can get stuck in the hair strands. The diagnosis is made by a health professional who uses appropriate equipment and tests. Tinea usually doesn’t cause serious complications, but it can cause temporary hair loss.

Treatment is with special shampoos and antifungals. Home remedies such as rosemary decoction and salicylic acid are complementary measures to conventional treatment. Some precautions must be taken during treatment, such as the use of suitable and gentle hair products, avoiding intense brushing and always cleaning combs and brushes.


Ringworm of the scalp (or tinea capillaries) is a fungal infection that affects the area covering the skull where the hair is implanted. It is characterized by the presence of peeling skin. This infection is caused by the growth of a fungus called pityriasis capitis.

Scalp mycosis causes inconvenience to patients because it causes aesthetic, social and psychological embarrassment.


The skin of the scalp is a surface on which sebaceous follicles are visible and where hair grows. Skin and hair renewal happens monthly and is part of the normal physiological process of the human body. Through its continual regeneration, dead cells are gradually eliminated and pushed out by new cells.

In general, pityriasis is present on the scalp, but remains dormant for some people, and may begin to invade the scalp and disturb the balance of cell formation, accelerating natural healing. The expulsion of cells becomes noticeable by their agglomeration on the surface of the skin as small sheets that form a film (similar to dandruff ). This fungus feeds on fatty acid exacerbating the dryness of an already dry skin.

In addition, this microorganism ejects an acidic substance that causes itching and irritation at the site. The body’s reaction intensifies the dandruff formation mechanism, worsening the vicious cycle.

Present in all individuals, fungus infestation only occurs under certain circumstances such as hormonal disorders and stress. Infectious diseases or digestive disorders also promote their proliferation. Regular consumption of alcoholic beverages, foods high in acid or also exposes us to dandruff.

Local disturbances, such as the acid pH of the scalp, excessive brushing, abuse or inappropriate use of cosmetics and excessive sweating caused by the use of helmets, hats or caps promote the development of pityriasis.


Scalp ringworm results in dandruff and is characterized by fine scaling comparable to wheat grains. There are three types: simple pityriasis, steatoid pityriasis and Alibert’s asbestos pityriasis.

Simple or dry pityriasis is the most frequent. This results in the formation of small thin, dry, gray or yellowish and dull scales present on the hair. It is also characterized by spontaneous detachment or itching. The skin is not inflamed, but irritation is possible.

Steatoid or fatty pityriasis is thicker and more transparent. Peeling consists of plaques that have different dimensions and adhere to the scalp. The red coloration of the skin reflects inflammation, which in turn causes severe itching.

Pityriasis asbestos represents the extreme development of dandruff. The plates are very thick, with silvery scales adhered to the scalp and hair. This condition mostly occurs in children.


The healthcare professional will try to differentiate this condition from conditions other than ringworm. It will also identify the manifestation of hair loss, dermatitis or psoriasis of the scalp.

In addition to questioning the history of symptoms and diagnosing your condition, the specialist will usually examine the damage with the naked eye or using equipment. To clarify the diagnosis, he may carry out more extensive examinations, such as samples for biopsy or mycological analysis.


Capillary ringworm does not cause a rash or alopecia. However, it can cause itchiness associated with the infection. Also, the asbestos form can cause limited hair loss. This drop, however, is not definitive even in complicated infections.


For pityriasis sicca and steatoid, use anti-dandruff shampoos or lotions such as zinc pyrithione, piroctone olamine, or selenium sulfide. They can be combined with an antifungal (econazole).

Significant inflammation may require the use of anti-inflammatory agents such as potent corticosteroids.

Salicylic acid and ichthyol allow the removal of very thick scales.

Alternative treatments

Below are alternative treatments to complement conventional treatments:

– Prepare a decoction of the flowering parts of rosemary : Put a handful or 50 grams in a liter of water. Boil the mixture for three minutes and then let the infusion sit for 10 to 15 minutes. After being filtered, add a coffee spoon of vinegar or juice of half a fresh lemon. Rub this lotion gently into the scalp once a day at bedtime. You can store this lotion in a bottle in the refrigerator.

– You can also dissolve 100 mg of salicylic acid ( aspirin ) in some water and apply a tablespoon on your scalp before washing. Then use a few drops of apple cider vinegar while rinsing well to clean your hair. If you feel the itchiness becomes too strong, massage the scalp with a little lemon juice before using the shampoo.

– Atlas cedar essential oil. Caution: apply the oil diluted in a base (ask your pharmacist).

Natural Remedies
– Apply apple cider vinegar , undiluted, directly to the area affected by ringworm, apply with a cotton swab. Repeat the operation 3 to 5 times a day for at least 3 days. Apple cider vinegar has antifungal and anti-inflammatory effects. This remedy can also change the pH (acidity level), making the scalp less hospitable to fungus and bacteria.


The treatment and prevention of scalp tinea requires taking certain precautions:
– Use gentle and suitable shampoos;
– Avoid all circumstances that favor the attack of your scalp such as irritating substances or environments, violent brushing;
– Maintain hygiene and a balanced diet, drink plenty of water and eat fresh fruits, green or steamed vegetables to reduce the acidity of your diet;
– Take vitamins A , E , C and selenium , respecting the prescriptions;
– Avoid excessive consumption of sugar, coffee, dairy products, red meat or sausage, as it can aggravate dandruff;
– Regularly clean brushes or combs to prevent fungus reactivation after treatment;
– Seek the advice of a healthcare professional in order to avoid possible drug intolerance and follow the appropriate treatment.
See also: Dandruff – Hair loss (in men) – Hair loss (in women)

Jeanne Kenney
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I’m a stylist trainer, a content creator, and an entrepreneur passion. Virgo sign and Pisces ascendant, I move easily between my dreams, the crazy world I want, and my feet on the ground to carry out my projects.

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