Ringworm of the Scalp or Beard - Topic Overview
How is ringworm of the scalp or beard diagnosed?
Your doctor may be able to diagnose ringworm just by how the rash looks. To check for the ringworm fungus, your doctor may look at a hair or skin sample under a microscope. This test is called a KOH preparation.
If it's not clear that you have ringworm, or if the treatment isn't working, your doctor may do a skin culture to find out what kind of germ is causing the problem.
How is it treated?
Your doctor will prescribe pills that will kill the fungus. And you can use special shampoo that may keep ringworm from spreading to others. But you need to use the shampoo along with the pills. By itself, the shampoo can't completely destroy the fungi causing the infection.
Depending on the medicine you take:
- Your doctor may want to check your blood work during treatment. These tests are to make sure that the medicine isn't affecting your blood counts or your liver or kidney function.
- You may need to take antifungal pills for as few as 4 weeks or as long as 12 weeks. Be sure to take the full course of your medicine.
If you treat ringworm early, the hair in the bald spots will probably grow back. If you don't treat it, the bald spots could be permanent.
If your child gets ringworm, ask the school nurse or local health department how long your child needs to stay out of school. Usually children can go to school after they have started treatment with antifungal medicine. You don't need to shave your child's head.
How can you keep ringworm from coming back?
Ringworm of the scalp or beard can come back after treatment has cleared the infection. To help prevent it from coming back:
- Throw away your combs and brushes and buy new ones as soon as you start treatment.
- Wash your hair or beard once a month with a shampoo that contains selenium sulfide (such as Selsun Blue or Head and Shoulders Intensive Treatment).
- Don't share hats, combs, brushes, or towels with others.
- Wash your clothes, towels, and bed sheets in hot water.
- Keep your skin clean and dry.