Ringworm of the scalp or beard is a fungal infection. Treatment includes medications taken through the mouth to kill fungi, as well as medicated shampoos that may lessen the spread of infection.

In some cases, severe inflammation at the site of infection may cause scarring or permanent hair loss.


Types of ringworm

The fungi that cause ringworm of the scalp can lead to other infections in the body. These infections are dependent on the part of the body affected. They include:

  • Ringworm of the body, or a red, scaly ring on the skin
  • Athlete’s foot that affects the moist areas between your toes and foot
  • Jock itch that affects your genitals, inner upper thighs, and buttocks


The signs and symptoms of ringworm of the scalp include:

  • One or more round patches of scaly skin where the hair has broken off at or just above the scalp
  • Patches that slowly expand or enlarge
  • Scaly, gray or reddened areas
  • Patches that have small black dots where the hair has broken off at the scalp
  • Brittle or fragile hair that easily pulls out
  • Tender or painful areas on the scalp

When to see a doctor

Certain conditions affecting the scalp may have the same appearance. If your child experiences itchiness of the scalp, hair loss and other uncommon appearance of the scalp, visit a doctor.


Doctors can usually assess ringworm of the scalp of the beard or another condition that affects your scalp based on a visual analysis of the scalp and your answers to their questions.

Patients with ringworm of the scalp can take a hair or skin sample for examination through a microscope. The test may show fungi and help confirm a diagnosis.


Antifungal medications that are taken orally can help treat ringworm of the scalp. The usual medications that are recommended are griseofulvin and terbinafine. One of these medications may be prescribed to your child for six weeks or more.

Hair medicated shampoos may also be prescribed by the doctor to your child. This helps eliminate fungus spores and avoid infection and spread to other people or other areas of the child’s scalp or body.

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