Ringworm: Brief Version

What is ringworm?

Ringworm is a fungus infection of the skin. It has nothing to do with worms. Often your child gets ringworm from a puppy or kitten.

If your child has ringworm, your child will have a ring-shaped pink patch on the skin. The patch will:

  • Usually be 1/2 to 1 inch in size with a scaly, raised border and clear center
  • Get slowly bigger
  • Be mildly itchy

How can I take care of my child?

  • Use antifungal cream.

    Buy Tinactin, Micatin, or Lotrimin cream at your drugstore. You won’t need a prescription. Apply the cream twice a day to the rash and 1 inch beyond the edge of the rash. Continue this treatment for 1 week after the ringworm patch is smooth and seems to be gone.

  • Keep your child in school or day care.

    Ringworm of the skin does not spread from one person to another easily enough to worry about. After 48 hours of treatment, it is not contagious at all. Your child doesn’t have to miss any school or day care.

  • Get treatment for pets.

    Kittens and puppies with ringworm usually do not itch and may not have any rash. Pets with a skin rash or sores should be examined by a veterinarian. Also have your child avoid close contact with the animal until he is treated. Natural immunity also develops in animals after 4 months even without treatment. Call your veterinarian for other questions.

Call your child’s doctor during office hours if:

  • The ringworm continues to spread after 1 week of treatment.
  • The rash has not cleared up in 4 weeks.
  • You have other concerns or questions.
Written by Barton D. Schmitt, MD, author of “My Child Is Sick,” American Academy of Pediatrics Books.
Pediatric Advisor 2015.1 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2007-03-26
Last reviewed: 2014-06-10
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright ©1986-2015 Barton D. Schmitt, MD. All rights reserved.

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