Ringworm of the Scalp: Brief Version

What is ringworm of the scalp?

Ringworm of the scalp is an infection of the hair caused by a fungus. The fungus causes the hair to break. Combs, brushes, hats, barrettes, seat backs, pillows, and bath towels can carry the fungus. A worm does not cause ringworm.

If your child has scalp ringworm:

  • Your child may lose hair in round patches.
  • The patches may slowly get bigger.
  • Hair may break off in places.
  • Your child’s scalp may itch and be scaly.

How can I take care of my child?

  • Give your child antifungal medicine. Your child needs to take the medicine to get better. Take it with foods such as milk or ice cream. That makes the medicine work better.
  • Wash your child’s hair with special shampoo that kills ringworm spores. Soap up your child’s hair and leave it on the scalp for 10 minutes. Then rinse. Use the shampoo two times a week for 1 month.
  • Keep your doctor appointments. In 4 weeks, take your child back to the doctor’s office. Your doctor will test your child’s hair. If the ringworm is not cured, your child will need to keep taking the medicine.

Your child will not spread the fungus to others after your child starts to take the medicine and you wash your child’s hair at least one time with the special shampoo.

Call your child’s doctor during office hours if:

  • Your child’s ringworm has pus or a yellow crust.
  • The ringworm keeps on growing after your child has been treated for 2 weeks.
  • You have other questions or concerns.
Written by Barton D. Schmitt, MD, author of “My Child Is Sick,” American Academy of Pediatrics Books.
Pediatric Advisor 2015.1 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2011-09-14
Last reviewed: 2014-06-10
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright ©1986-2015 Barton D. Schmitt, MD. All rights reserved.

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