Microsporia is a fungal disease affecting the skin and the hair. The name of the disease comes from its causative agent Microsporum fungus. It is also known as ringworm.

Getting on the skin, the fungus penetrates into it and starts reproducing.     When locating near the hair bulbs, the spores begin to germinate affecting the hair and destroying the cuticle. As a result, the fungus encompasses the hair forming a cover and fills up the bulb.

Microsporia is the most prevalent fungal infection except for fungal foot. The disease is highly contagious. Children are affected more often. In adults, the disease is rare occurring mostly in young women. Rare cases of microsporia in adults (especially with the affection of the scalp) and spontaneous recovery in adolescents can be accounted by the fact that in adult people the hair contains organic acids delaying the fungal growth.

The disease is mainly transmitted from cats (usually, kittens) and more rarely from dogs. It occurs as a result of a direct contact with a sick animal or the things infected by its fur or scales. In the soil, the fungus preserves its vitality during only 1-3 months. So, the soil is only the means of transmitting the infection, but not its natural source.

Incubation period of the disease lasts from 5 to 45days.

There are two types of microsporia: that of the glabrous skin and of the scalp.

Glabrous skin microsporia

            In the place of the fungus penetration, there appears a regularly outlined edematous red spot raised above the surface of the skin. It gradually increases in diameter with the formation of a roll raised above the surface of the skin and consisting of nodules, blisters and crusts. In the central part of the spot, resolution of the inflammation occurs. Therefore, it becomes light pink with abrasing peeling on the surface. Thus, the focus has the shape of a ring.

The number of foci is usually small (1-3) with the diameter ranging from 0,5 to 3 cm.  Most often they can be found on the skin of the face, the neck, the arms and the shoulders. As a rule they don’t give any subjective sensations, but sometimes the patient may complain of a moderate itching.

Newborns and younger children, as well as young women may have marked inflammation and mild peeling.

Microsporia of the scalp

            It usually occurs in children from 5 to 12 years old. It is interesting to note that microsporia of the scalp is never found in children with red hair.

The foci are mostly located on the crown, in parietal and temporal areas. Usually, one or two big round or oval foci with clearly cut borders can be seen with the size from 2 to 5 cm. On the edge of big foci, small foci can be observed with the diameter of 0,5 – 1,5 cm. On the 6th or 7th day, microsporia spreads to the hair that becomes brittle and breaks off at the level of 4-6 mm above the skin and looks as if it was cut. The remaining short hair looks dull and is covered with a greyish-white coat, which contains the fungal spores. When “stroking” this hair, it moves in one direction and doesn’t restore its initial position unlike normal hair. The skin in the affected area is usually red, edematous and covered with greyish-white scales.


Children shouldn’t play with homeless cats and dogs and bring them home. If it happened, it is necessary to wash the child thoroughly and to take the animal to a vet.

Take care that the children’s body, hair and nails were clean. Explain that they should use only their personal combs, hats, towels and clothes.

 If some member of the family has microsporia, the following rules must be observed:

  • personal clothes and bed-linen of a sick person should be boiled and washed separately!
  • woolen articles of clothes should be ironed with a hot iron after washing!
  • all household articles used by a sick person should be washed carefully with hot water and soap and disinfected!
  • the flat should be cleaned with a damp cloth using detergents!

N.I. Komarovskaya, doctor-dermatovenerologist.