Doctors and providers who treat this condition


Scalp Ringworm (Child)

Ringworm is a skin infection caused by a fungus. It is not caused by a worm. Ringworm is contagious. It can be spread by contact with people or animals infected with the fungus. It can also be spread by contact with an object that is contaminated by infected person or animal.

A ringworm scalp infection causes a red, ring-shaped patch on the scalp. The rash may be small or a few inches across. The ring is often smooth in the center with a scaly, red border. The area is dry, scaly, itchy, and flaky. There may also be blisters. These can ooze clear or cloudy fluid (pus). Your child may also have  hair loss in patches where the rash is on the scalp.

Ringworm is most often treated with antifungal medicine. It may take a week before the infection starts to go away. It may take a few weeks to clear completely. When the infection is gone, the skin may have scarring.

Home care

Your child’s health care provider will prescribe oral antifungal medicine. Don’t stop giving this medicine until your child has finished it. Follow all instructions for using any medicine on your child.

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.

  • Make sure your child does not scratch the affected area. This can delay healing and may spread the infection. It can also cause a bacterial infection. You may need to use “scratch mittens” that cover your child’s hands. Keep his or her fingernails trimmed short.

  • If there are blisters, put a clean compress dipped in Burow’s solution (aluminum acetate solution) on them. This solution is available in stores 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. 

  • Don’t shave or close cut the hair. This does not help heal the infection.

  • Check your child’s scalp every day for the signs listed below.

Special note to parents

Ringworm of the scalp is very contagious. Keep your child from close contact with others and out of day care or school for at least 2 days after treatment has started. Wash your hands well with soap and warm water before and after caring for your child. This is to help avoid spreading the infection.

Follow-up care

Follow up with your child’s health care provider. Ringworm of the scalp can be very hard to treat. In very rare cases, the infection does not go away fully until the child reaches his or her teen years.

When to seek medical advice

Call your child’s health care provider right away if any of these occur:

  • Fever of 101.4°F (38.5°C) or higher that doesn’t get lower with medicine

  • A child 2 years or older has a fever for more than 3 days

  • A child of any age has repeated fevers above 104°F (40°C)

  • Rash that does not improve treatment is started

  • Rash that spreads to other areas of the body

  • The scalp becomes swollen, soft, hot and tender

  • Fussiness or crying that cannot be soothed

  • Foul-smelling fluid leaking from the skin 


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