What is ringworm of the scalp and how can it be treated?
Ringworm is a skin disease that is caused by a species of fungi. It can affect different areas of the skin, and if it appears on the scalp it's called ringworm of the scalp. It is much more common in children than in adults, in fact more than 90% of the cases are seen at children.
It can have 3 forms, but two of them are very rare, less than 5% of all cases. The most common form can appear at any age and it disappears when the patient reaches puberty. It is very contagious and it spreads very quickly, so the affected children should be isolated from others. It can be spread by touching someone who has it or something that has been used by that person, like a towel or a hat.
The symptoms of the ringworm of the scalp are round itchy patches of skin that have a bright red color at their outer borders and an almost normal color in the center. This is where the name ringworm comes from, because the margins of the patches are shaped like a worm. You can see those areas because the hair on them is less thicker than in other areas of the scalp.
The treatment for ringworm is either antifungal creams or antifungal pills, in combination with antifungal shampoo. Ointments and the shampoo must be applied directly on the infected areas so they can eliminate all the fungi they find there. Remember that like all fungi, ringworm develops best in humid dark areas, so a lot of air and sun is recommended. You should also wash the infected areas and wipe them gently until they are completely dry. Some people say that sea salt can kill the ringworm fungi because it absorbs all the moisture if it's applied on the infected skin patches for 20-30 minutes.
It should be started as soon as ringworm is diagnosed because it can spread to other places and it can leave permanent scars if nothing is done to treat it for a long time.
Doctors can diagnose ringworm of the scalp just by looking at it. Sometimes they may take a sample of skin from an infected patch to perform additional tests on it.
If it's treated properly, ringworm of the scalp can go away but you should continue the treatment for a while although there are no symptoms left, in order to kill all the remaining fungi.
Ringworm of the scalp is the most resistant for of ringworm, so consult a doctor to find out what the best medication is and don't start treating it yourself if you haven't.
You can prevent ringworm if you know that there are infected persons living or working with you by always keeping your skin dry, not sharing combs and towels with others and by washing your hair preventively with an antifungal shampoo.
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