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Children's Health

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Hair Grooming Not Linked to Ringworm

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Also, the scaly flakes of the organism can live on surfaces such as the back of a chair, a hat, a comb, or a doll. So children playing together can pass the infection to one another easily.

Kevin Mason, MD, an associate professor of pediatrics at Morehouse School of Medicine, tells WebMD that the organism doesn't live on the scalp's surface but gets into the hair follicle, where medicated creams and lotions can't go. Treatment requires taking medicines by mouth, so getting rid of the fungus takes a long time.

"The medicine grows out into the new follicle and kills the fungus," Mason says. It can take three months or longer for medication to kill the ringworm completely.

Even after medications have been started, children may still be contagious for two weeks. "They need to wear something on their head when they go to school -- baseball cap or scarf -- to keep from passing [it] to other children," says Mason.

So, what's a parent to do?

Selsun shampoos -- both prescription and over-the-counter may help, says Mason.

And he has two more tips.

"You need to also make sure that you clean your comb, your brush, your barrettes, hair bows, and your rubber bands -- fill up your bathroom sink and soak them in the shampoo for an hour once a week," he says. And, "when you take your kids to the barber, immediately go home and wash their heads -- don't go to the mall, or the movies." This will reduce the risk of catching ringworm from clippers at the barber.

Also, both Mason and Silverberg say it is not a good idea to share hair utensils or hats.

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