Ringworm of the Scalp: Care Instructions

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Your Care Instructions

Ringworm is a fungus infection of the skin. It is not caused by a worm or bug. Ringworm causes round patches of baldness or scaly skin on the scalp. Ringworm of the scalp is most common in children 3 to 9 years old.

Sometimes a blister-like rash appears on the face with ringworm of the scalp. This is an allergic reaction that usually clears when the ringworm is treated.

The fungus that causes ringworm of the scalp spreads from person to person. You can catch ringworm by sharing hats, combs, brushes, towels, telephones, or sports equipment. You can also get it by touching a person with ringworm. Once in a while, it can also spread from a dog or cat to a person.

Ringworm of the scalp is treated with pills. Ringworm may come back after treatment. Treating ringworm of the scalp can prevent scarring and permanent hair loss.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Take your medicines exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor if you have any problems with your medicine.
  • Ask your doctor if a shampoo might help. Special shampoos for ringworm contain selenium sulfide or ketoconazole. Your doctor can let you know if and how often you can use one.
  • To prevent spreading ringworm:
    • As soon as you start treatment, throw away your combs and brushes, and buy new ones. Do not share hats, sport equipment, or other objects. Ringworm-causing fungus can live on objects, people, or animals for several months.
    • Wash your hands well after caring for someone with ringworm. Adults who have contact with a child with ringworm of the scalp can become a carrier. A carrier does not have a ringworm infection but can pass ringworm to others.
    • Wash your clothes, towels, and bed sheets in hot, soapy water.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have signs of infection such as:
    • Increased pain, swelling, redness, tenderness, or heat.
    • Red streaks extending from the area.
    • Pus coming from the rash on your skin.
    • A fever.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • Your ringworm does not improve after 2 weeks of treatment.
  • You do not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.