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Scalp Ringworm

(Tinea Capitis)

By

The Manual's Editorial Staff

Medically Reviewed Oct 2022
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Ringworm Overview of Ringworm (Tinea) Ringworm is a common fungal infection of your skin or nails. Ringworm has nothing to do with worms. But the rash it causes can be ring-shaped. Therefore the infection has come to be called ringworm... read more is a common fungal infection of your skin or nails. Ringworm has nothing to do with worms. But the rash it causes can be ring-shaped. Therefore the infection has come to be called ringworm. Doctors call these infections "tinea."

What is scalp ringworm?

Scalp ringworm is a fungal infection that causes a scaly rash or patch of hair loss on the scalp.

  • Scalp ringworm is most common in children

  • It spreads easily from person to person

  • It can cause a scalp rash, bald spots, and rarely a painful swelling that leaks pus

  • Treatment includes antifungal medicine taken by mouth and used in a scalp cream and special shampoo

  • It can take a long time to get rid of scalp ringworm

What are the symptoms of scalp ringworm?

Symptoms include:

How do doctors tell if I have scalp ringworm?

Doctors can often tell it's scalp ringworm by looking at it. They'll sometimes pluck a hair from your head and take a small scraping of skin to look at under a microscope. They may look at your scalp with an ultraviolet (UV) light, because ringworm glows under UV light and other rashes don't.

How do doctors treat scalp ringworm?

Doctors treat scalp ringworm in children with:

  • Antifungal medicine by mouth for 4 to 6 weeks

  • Antifungal cream applied to the child's scalp until the infection is gone

  • Prescription-strength selenium sulfide shampoo to wash the child's hair, at least twice a week

  • For a kerion, corticosteroids by mouth

Children may attend school during treatment.

Doctors treat scalp ringworm in adults with:

  • Antifungal medicine by mouth for 3 to 4 months

NOTE: This is the Consumer Version. DOCTORS: VIEW PROFESSIONAL VERSION
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