Ringworm Information

Ringworm is an infection that can be caused by several different types of fungus--not worms. The "worm" part of its name comes from the wavy, ring-shaped blemishes that it causes on a person's skin. Ringworm can affect skin and nails anywhere on the body, even on the scalp. Ringworm of the body is called "tinea corporis", of the scalp, "tinea capitis", of the feet, "tinea pedis" and infections of the groin, "tinea cruris".

Ringworm is a contagious fungal infection. It can pass from person to person via skin to skin contact, on contaminated hats and combs, tables and even on surfaces like theater seats. A child can also catch ringworm by playing with a cat or dog that has mange.

 

What to look for?

On a child's skin, look for dry, red, scaly patches that are usually round and have raised wavy edges. Each patch can spread to a diameter of one inch or more, and the patch's center portion may clear as it spreads.  Image

Ringworm on the scalp causes either bald patches or patches of short, broken hairs, with red scaly skin underneath. The clinical manifestation will vary with the infecting organism.

 

What to do?

If your child has a small area of ringworm on their skin, your doctor can prescribe an antifungal ointment that is usually applied twice a day for two to four weeks. If your child has a ringworm infection in her scalp, or in a large area of her skin, your doctor may prescribe an antifungal medicine to be taken by mouth. Treatment may take several weeks. Fungal infections of the nail bed are difficult to eradicate, may require a combination of therapies and may require prolonged treatment.

 

If your child is being treated for ringworm of the scalp, discard hats, combs and hairbrushes. This will stop ringworm fungus from re-infecting your child once treatment ends. The lesion must be covered with a bandage in school.

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