Doctors and providers who treat this condition


Scalp Ringworm (Child)

Your child has ringworm of the scalp. This is an infection caused by a fungus and NOT by a worm. Ringworm is contagious. It can be spread by contact with persons or animals infected with the fungus. It can also be spread by contact with an object that is contaminated by an infected person or animal. Ringworm of the scalp is most often treated with an oral antifungal medication.

Common appearance

Ringworm has the following characteristics:

  • Red, round, ring shaped patch

  • Can be small or a couple of inches in diameter

  • Broken hair

  • Dry, scaly, itchy, and flaky

  • May ooze pus

  • Can have blisters

  • Temporary hair loss and bald patches in the infected area

  • Can cause lasting scars

Home care

Your health care provider will prescribe oral antifungal medication for your child. Follow the instructions for giving any medication to your child. Do not stop giving this medication until your child has finished the prescribed course or your doctor tells you to stop.

Contagious period: Ringworm of the scalp is very contagious and spreads easily. Any child with ringworm should stay out of daycare or school until cleared by your health care provider.

General care

  • The doctor may recommend medicated shampoo for your child. The shampoo may help reduce the risk of spreading the infection to others. Be sure to wash your hands with soap and warm water before and after bathing your child and washing his or her hair.

  • Tell your child not to scratch the rash. Keep his or her fingernails trimmed short. Scratching can cause a bacterial infection on top of the ringworm.

  • If blisters are present, apply a clean compress dipped in Burow’s solution (Domeboro or others). This is available without a prescription.

  • Wash any items such as hats, combs, brushes, or hair clips that may have touched the infection. Tell your child not to share these items with others. 

  • Do not stop using the medicine just because it looks better. Take the medicine until after it has cleared or your health care provider tells you to stop.

  • Shaving or close cutting of hair does not help.

Follow-up care

Follow up with your health care provider as advised. Ringworm of the scalp can be very hard to treat. In rare cases, the infection does not resolve completely until the child reaches puberty (teen years).

When to seek medical advice

Call your child's health care provider if any of these occur:

  • Fever greater than 100.4°F (38°C)

  • Rash does not improve or spreads to other areas even after starting treatment

  • The scalp becomes swollen, soft, hot and tender


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