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Updated: 4/11/2007 2:45 pm
If your child's over a year old and has a continually scaly scalp, it could be ringworm. Ringworm is a common and easily-treated skin infection caused by a fungus, not by a worm. In children, it can appear as a scaly round patch on the chest or the side of the scalp, and there may be hair loss. The infections tend to form round or oval spots that become smooth in the center but keep an active red, scaly border. Scalp ringworm is contagious, often spread to a child by contact with an infected dog or cat. It may be confused with dandruff or with 'cradle cap,' which is a disease that occurs only during infancy. Ringworm can be treated using an over-the-counter antifungal (an-ti-FUN-gul) cream or by prescription cream or antibiotics in severe cases. There's also a special shampoo, which may also be used by other family members to help prevent its spread. Once a child has been diagnosed with ringworm, he should avoid physical contact with others and sharing combs or brushes until it's cleared up, to prevent spreading the disease.

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