Ringworm

Help your child heal from a ringworm infection

Ringworm is a common childhood illness caused by a fungus. It is spread by dogs, cats, sheep and other animals that may come in contact with your child. Traditionally, ringworm in children is shown by a red circular skin rash, which is very distinctive. It is not caused by a worm, as was historically thought; however, the rash can look like a worm has burrowed into the skin. Thankfully, ringworm is very treatable.

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What is ringworm?

The fungi that cause ringworm feed on keratin, the outer layer found on skin, hair and nails. The fungus is thought to affect up to 20% of the population, and thrives on warm, moist areas of the body. Many people who play sports or wrestle may experience ringworm, and children spread it easily by not washing hands and being in very close contact with each other. There are many types of this fungus, known as Dermatophytes. Another such infection that is very common is athlete's foot.

Ringworm symptoms

Symptoms of ringworm include large, raised rings of redness that may itch, or may simply disfigure the skin. Some people may experience jock itch or athlete's foot, as well. Normally, the rash appears in places generally covered by clothes, since the fungus likes warm, moist places.

Ringworm treatment

Ringworm is treated by prevention, first and foremost. All clothing, bedding, shoes and other items that may have come in contact with the fungus should be washed with detergent that will kill it. Avoid walking barefoot in locker rooms or at the gym. Avoid touching pets with bald spots, as they are often carriers of the fungus.

If your child has ringworm, the doctor will generally give a topical antifungal agent to clear up the rash. Sometimes oral medications may be given if the rash is bad or on the scalp. The total duration of treatment is two weeks, to kill any spores of the fungus that may be remaining on the clothing or bedding. It is highly advisable to teach your child to not touch the rash or any lesions, to prevent infection or spreading. It will normally clear up quickly after that.