Contrary to what many people believe, a worm does not cause ringworm. It is caused by a fungal infection of the skin and is called ringworm because of the round, ring-like shape that usually appears at the site of infection. Scalp ringworm infections, or tinea capitis, are very common among children, and can be caught through direct or indirect contact. According to the Directors of Health Promotion and Education, ringworm of the scalp generally requires both topical and oral medications to be cured.
1. Visit your doctor if you suspect you may be suffering from ringworm of the scalp. The infection can usually be diagnosed based on physical examination alone, but your doctor may perform tests to confirm the diagnosis or scrape cells from the site of infection to check for fungal spores.
2. Use a shampoo specially designed for treatment of ringworm on the scalp. Shampoos containing selenium sulfide or zinc pyrithione are the most commonly used for scalp ringworm. Some shampoos are available over-the-counter, but you may require the use of a prescription-strength shampoo.
3. Apply over-the-counter shampoos two to three times per week for the length of time indicated on the bottle. If you have been prescribed a shampoo, follow your doctor’s instructions regarding the length of treatment.
4. Take any oral medications prescribed by your doctor. Topical creams and shampoos cannot fully penetrate the skin, which means they may not be fully effective at curing the ringworm on your scalp. Oral medications treat the infection from the inside out.
5. Ask your doctor for a course of oral steroids to reduce inflammation and relieve any itching you are experiencing. Scratching your head will delay recovery and may result in hair loss.
6. Try a natural remedy to cure your scalp ringworm. Tea tree oil, apple cider vinegar, and garlic have all shown to be effective at curing scalp ringworm in some cases.
7. Continue using any prescribed medications for at least a month, or longer if ordered to do so by your doctor. Even if your symptoms disappear before your medication is finished, the infection may still be present.
8. Wait for your hair to grow out completely before expecting a complete cure. While treating the scalp ringworm will relieve your symptoms, you will not be officially cured until all of your hair grows out.
9. Prevent re-infection by avoiding contact with infected people and by not using combs, brushes, or hats that belong to someone else.