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Skin Problems & Treatments Health Center

Ringworm of the Scalp or Beard - Medications

Antifungal medicine (pills or liquid) and shampoo used together are most effective in curing ringworm of the scalp and beard.

Depending on the medicine, antifungal pills are taken for as few as 4 weeks or as long as 12 weeks.

Antifungal shampoo is not effective when used alone to treat ringworm of the scalp or beard, because it cannot penetrate into infected hairs and destroy the fungi present there.

Sometimes other infections occur when a person has ringworm, usually because bacteria have entered the body through the ringworm sores or rash. If needed, you can use other medicines, such as antibiotics, along with antifungals to treat these secondary bacterial infections.

Swollen areas and bumps that look like blisters and have pus (kerions) are caused by an allergic reaction to fungus. You can treat kerions with a combination of oral antifungal medicine and a corticosteroid (usually oral), such as prednisone.

To help prevent ringworm from developing after exposure to the fungus, you can use antifungal shampoo every 2 days for about a week.

Medicine choices

The most common antifungals you can use to treat ringworm of the scalp or beard include:

Antifungal shampoos are available by prescription and as over-the-counter products. Both kinds may contain active ingredients like ketoconazole or selenium sulfide. Prescription shampoos often contain a larger amount of these medicines, or they may contain povidone.

What to think about

People who are taking antifungal pills should have a doctor monitor their blood counts and liver and kidney function during treatment to watch for any adverse side effects.

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: December 21, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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