Do you have an itchy scalp? Warning signs that your rash is a ‘contagious’ scalp infection

Experts have seen a surge in skin complaints during the pandemic, which they believe stem from new hygiene measures. The most common causes for the itchy scalp are stress and anxiety, which can trigger dandruff and psoriasis. Ringworm infections on the scalp, which affect between 10 and 20 percent of people in their lifetime, are often brushed off as psoriasis.

Ringworm, also called tinea, is an infection caused by microscopic organisms that are similar to yeast and moulds.

It does not have any relation to worms, but it is called “ringworm” because the infection can produce ring-shaped patches on the skin that have red, worm-like edges.”

When ringworm affects the scalp, this infection is known as tine capitis, which can causes patches of hair loss.

Although these itchy patches often appear to look round, they do not always make a ring pattern, making it easy to confuse with psoriasis.

READ MORE: Best supplements for hair loss: A vitamin to penetrate hair follicles for hair regrowth

One way to differentiate between the two scalp infection is by looking at the centre of the patch, which should appear sunken, and may be grey or scaly.

While psoriasis rashes also typically emerge in round patches, the shape tends to be less regular and does not resemble a worm.

What’s more, the itch caused by ringworm is often described as being more intense than psoriasis.

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According to the Harvard Health blog, the condition is more common among children aged three to nine.

It is particularly common among those who live in urbanised areas, and in crowded conditions.

“Scalp ringworm spreads on contaminated combs, brushes, hats and pillows and it may occur in epidemics in schools and day-care centres,” explains Harvard Health.

Although the silvery patch may affect the head, it commonly affects the arms and legs, and can appear anywhere else on the body.

The NHS states: “Ringworm is a common fungal infection that can cause a red of silvery worm-like rash on the skin.

“Other similar fungal infections can affect the scalp, feet, groin and nails. These fungal infections, medically known as ‘tinea’, are not serious and are usually easily treated.”

“However, they are contagious and spread easily.”

It is estimated that between 10 and 20 percent of people will have ringworm in their lifetime.

As with most fungal infections, ringworm can be treated with topical antifungal cream.

As the rash becomes increasingly irritated, the barrier of the skin may break, raising the risk of infection.

“If the skin is irritated or broken, it can lead to other bacterial infections, which may need treatments with antibiotics,” adds the NHS.

Scalp conditions, such as dandruff, can occur at any age and in either sex.

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