Ringworm is a fungal infection of the skin that causes an itchy and painful rash. It is more common in children and teenagers, especially those who are active in youth sports. Ringworm spreads easily among families or in damp environments like locker rooms and swimming pools.
Contrary to its name, ringworm is not actually caused by a worm. Instead, ringworm is caused by fungi that naturally live on the hair, skin, and nails. An overgrowth or infection of this fungus can occur in warm, damp environments. Children with weakened immune systems are at higher risk of contracting ringworm.
Ringworm is contagious and can easily spread from one person to another by skin-to-skin contact. Ringworm can also be transmitted from contact with objects like towels, hairbrushes, or locker room floors. In addition, ringworm can spread from animals to people.
Ringworm infection can affect different parts of the body and may cause a variety of symptoms depending on where the infection is located. For example, when ringworm affects the feet, it is called athlete’s foot and can cause itching, blisters, and scaling of the feet.
Symptoms of a ringworm infection of the body include:
- Ring-like rash
- Red rash with raised edges
- Itching of the affected area
Ringworm can look like other common skin conditions, so a doctor’s evaluation may be needed in order to make a definitive diagnosis. The diagnosis of ringworm infection is generally made by examining the patient and taking a history of the child’s symptoms. In some cases, suspected ringworm infection may need to be confirmed by taking a skin scraping and sending a sample to be tested in a lab.
The treatment of mild ringworm is fairly simple and generally consists of the topical application of over-the-counter antifungal creams and sprays. It is important to always keep the affected skin clean and dry and change clothing frequently.
With the right treatment, a ringworm infection should begin to clear up within a couple of weeks. However, because fungi live naturally on your child’s skin, a ringworm infection can easily come back, and repeat treatments might be needed.
If a ringworm infection is more severe, prescription medications such as antibiotics, steroids, or antifungals might be necessary to reduce symptoms and help clear up an active infection.
If you have one child with an active infection of ringworm, you will need to take extra measures to make sure it does not spread to other family members. Active ringworm infection can also easily spread to other areas of the body if proper hygiene is not followed.
In order to prevent ringworm infection, never share towels and always wear shoes in common areas like locker rooms, gyms, and swimming pools. Sports gear and uniforms should be washed frequently, and kids should avoid wearing tight-fitting clothing, especially when active.
If you have any questions about the diagnosis or treatment of your child’s ringworm infection, give us a call today to schedule an appointment with one of our knowledgeable pediatricians in Arvada, Westminster & Broomfield.