Epidemiology of tinea capitis in Europe: current state and changing patterns

Mycoses. 2007;50 Suppl 2:6-13. doi: 10.1111/j.1439-0507.2007.01424.x.


Tinea capitis (scalp ringworm) is the most common dermatophyte infection of the scalp affecting mainly children and rarely adults. The epidemiology of tinea capitis varies within different geographical areas throughout the world. It may occur sporadically or epidemically and an increase in its incidence has been noted over the last few decades. The aim of the study is to obtain a general overview of the current state and changing pattern of tinea capitis in Europe. According to the literature, there has been a significant increase in the incidence of tinea capitis and a change in the pattern of infectious agents in particular. Microsporum canis, a zoophilic dermatophyte, is still the most common reported causative agent of tinea capitis in Europe. The countries reporting the highest incidence of M. canis infections are mainly in the Mediterranean but also bordering countries like Austria, Hungary, Germany and Poland. Besides the increase in Microsporum-induced tinea capitis, there is a shift towards anthrophilic tinea capitis mainly in urban areas in Europe. The largest overall increase with anthropophilic dermatophytes has been noted with Trichophyton tonsurans mainly in the UK and with Trichophyton soudanense and Microsporum audouinii in France. The occurrence of anthropophilic infections seems to be geographically restricted and is possibly linked to the immigration from African countries. Children (aged 3-7 years with no predilection of gender) remain the most commonly affected, but recently an increase of tinea capitis has been observed in adults and in the elderly. The results of the study clearly demonstrate the importance of diagnosing and proper treatment of mycotic scalp infection in the Europe. If not diagnosed and treated properly, its prevalence might reach epidemic proportions in the near future. Therefore, an increased level of surveillance (screening in schools), and a highly effective interdisciplinary cooperation among general practitioners, mycologists, veterinarians and dermatologists are strongly recommended.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Europe / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Microsporum / isolation & purification*
  • Prevalence
  • Tinea Capitis / epidemiology*
  • Tinea Capitis / microbiology
  • Tinea Capitis / transmission
  • Trichophyton / isolation & purification*