Diagnosis

Your doctor can often make a diagnosis of ringworm or another condition affecting the scalp based on a visual examination of the scalp and your answers to questions.

He or she may take a sample or hair or skin for examination under a microscope. This test may reveal the presence of fungi and help confirm a diagnosis.

Treatment

Antifungal medications that can be taken by mouth are used to treat ringworm of the scalp. The medications most commonly prescribed include griseofulvin (Gris-Peg) and terbinafine (Lamisil). Your child might need to take one of these medications for six weeks or more.

Your doctor might recommend that you also wash your child's hair with a prescription-strength medicated shampoo. This may help remove fungus spores and prevent the spread of the infection to other people or to other areas of your child's scalp or body.

Preparing for your appointment

If your child has a condition affecting his or her scalp, you'll likely start by seeing your family doctor or child's pediatrician. You may be referred to a skin specialist (dermatologist).

What to expect from your doctor

Your doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions, such as:

  • When did you first notice symptoms?
  • What did the scalp look like when symptoms first appeared?
  • Is the rash painful or itchy?
  • What, if anything, makes the condition better or worse?
  • Do you have any pets at home, or has your child been around farm animals?
  • Does another family member or a pet already have ringworm?
  • Do you know of any cases of ringworm in your child's school?

Questions for your doctor

Questions you might be prepared to ask your doctor include:

  • If this is ringworm, what can we do to prevent the infection from spreading?
  • What hair care routines do you recommend while the condition heals?
  • When can my child return to school?
  • Should I schedule a follow-up appointment for my child?
  • Should I make appointments for my other children even if they aren't showing signs or symptoms right now?
Nov. 05, 2016
References
  1. Allmon A, et al. Common skin rashes in children. American Family Physician. 2015;92:211.
  2. Bennett JE, et al. Dermatophytosis (ringworm) and other superficial mycoses. In: Mandell, Douglas, and Bennett's Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases. 8th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2015. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed June 29, 2016.
  3. Kliegman RM, et al. Cutaneous fungal infections. In: Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 20th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Elsevier; 2016. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed June 29, 2016.
  4. Treat JR. Tinea capitis. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed June 29, 2016.
  5. Kaushik N, et al. Superficial fungal infections. Primary Care Clinics in Office Practice. 2015;42:501.
  6. Ringworm risk and prevention. Centers for Disease Control. http://www.cdc.gov/fungal/diseases/ringworm/risk-prevention.html. Accessed July 1, 2016.