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Ringworm of the Scalp in Children: 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 child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

How can you care for your child at home?

  • Have your child take medicines exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor if your child has any problems with a medicine.
  • Ask your doctor if a special shampoo might help. Your doctor can let you know if and how often you can use one.
  • To prevent spreading ringworm:
    • As soon as your child starts treatment, throw away combs and brushes your child uses and buy new ones. Do not let your child 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 treating or touching your child's rash.
    • Wash your child's clothes, towels, and bed sheets in hot, soapy water.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor or nurse advice line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your child has signs of infection, such as:
    • Increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness.
    • Red streaks leading from the area.
    • Pus draining from the rash on the skin.
    • A fever.

Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice line if:

  • Your child's ringworm does not improve after 2 weeks of treatment.
  • Your child does not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

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Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.