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What are the treatments for scalp fungus?

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Quick Answer

Treatment for a fungal scalp infection depends on the type of fungus, with some requiring use of a prescription medicine such as griseofulvin. Some fungal infections clear without treatment, according to WebMD.

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Fungal scalp infections begin as a small pimple-like structure but grow with time. As they grow out from the initial infection, they develop a ring in the scalp commonly called ringworm, which doctors call tinea capitis. The fungus makes the hair brittle and it often breaks leaving a temporary bald spot. On a worldwide basis, the fungus Microsporum audouinii is a common cause of tinea capitis, reports WebMD, but other fungi also cause ringworm.

Shampoos containing ketoconazole or selenium sulfide are helpful in slowing or stopping the spread of ringworm but do not eliminate the infection, explains MedlinePlus. The condition is sometimes difficult to eradicate but often goes away on its own after puberty. The infection spreads by pets or sharing towels, hats or other headgear.

While griseofulvin is normally effective against fungal scalp infections, WebMD reports there are a growing number of cases where the fungus is resistant to the medication and requires a higher dosage or longer application of the medication. Newer antifungal medications offer other effective treatment alternatives for resistant infections.

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