Medically known as tinea capitis, ringworm of the scalp is a fungal infection, explains the National Institutes of Health. It's caused by dermatophytes, a type of fungi that thrives in moist environments. Treatment typically involves an oral medication to kill the fungus, but doctors often recommend using a medicated shampoo at the same time. One of the shampoos that can affect ringworm is sold under the brand name of Nizoral.
Ringworm of the scalp typically manifests as round patches of scaly skin, cautions the Mayo Clinic. It's frequently accompanied by hair loss or breakage as well as redness, scaling, flaking and even pain along the affected areas of the scalp. It may start out small and expand along the scalp as the spores spread across the skin.
Treatment revolves around either griseofulvin or terbinafine hydrochloride, medications that come in tablet, capsule, liquid or granule form. Both drugs are considered antifungal agents and effective in treating tinea capitis when used daily. These medications may be used along with a topical treatment, including Nizoral shampoo.
Nizoral shampoo contains the active ingredient ketoconazole. Ketoconazole prevents the growth of fungi as well as kills the pathogen itself, advises the Mayo Clinic. When used in conjunction with other medications, it's applied to the scalp two to three times a week for right around a month. However, your doctor may recommend its use for the entirety of treatment, which is usually upwards of six weeks.
Using Nizoral shampoo is similar to any other shampoo. You need only apply enough of the product to cause a lather along the scalp and hair. The solution is rinsed and then applied a second time. After the hair and scalp is washed, rinse out again. Dry and style the hair as normal.
Ringworm is highly contagious and treatment should recognize it as such. It can easily be passed from person to person as well as object to person. As you work to clear the fungal infection, wash towels, combs and brushes between each use. It's also crucial to clean surfaces and avoid sharing sheets, blankets, hats and clothing with people suffering from the condition.
Although ringworm is fairly difficult to prevent, the Mayo Clinic recommends using some of the same precautions you'd use for protecting yourself from the common cold. This means washing hands with regularity, avoid sharing items and limit your exposure to infected individuals. It's also important to keep hair, clothing and linens clean.