Ringworm is a fungal infection that is contagious, similar to the fungus that causes athlete’s foot. The infection appears in a ring or round shape, hence the name “ringworm.” It has nothing to do with a worm. The infection can be itchy and is commonly seen in children. The rings can be crusty, however, the inside of the ring is usually smooth. Rings can appear on the thighs, stomach, arms, back and even on the scalp.
1. Make an appointment with the doctor to determine if the ringworm can be treated with an over the counter anti-fungal cream. Children may be sensitive to certain creams. Be sure to only use a small amount at first to be sure there aren’t any skin irritations from using the cream.
2. Ask the doctor about treating ringworm with an oral medicine. Ringworm found on the scalp may be more difficult to treat than the ringworm found on the torso. A medicated shampoo may be prescribed for ringworm found on the scalp. Also ask your doctor about taking vitamin supplements to boost the immune system. Chewable vitamin C and multivitamins are available for children.
3. Check the rest of the family for ringworm. The infection can be contagious. Inspect siblings, parents and pets for the ringworm. Treat each one appropriately for the infection if found. It may be difficult to detect ringworm on pets. Make an appointment with the pet’s veterinarian to find out if it has ringworm.
4. Wash bedding, clothing, towels and washcloths in hot water. Sterilize combs and brushes. Use bleach if possible. It is important that combs, brushes, hair barrettes and clips are not shared, especially during a ringworm infection.
5. Talk to the doctor about shampooing with products that contain selenium sulfide. Shampooing the hair with this type of product may help prevent scalp ringworm from spreading to other areas. The doctor may recommend washing often with a particular shampoo.
6. Refrain from washing and scrubbing the infected area. The skin can break and the infection can get worse or spread to other parts of the body. Wear loose clothing on areas where the ringworm is present, as tight-fitted garments may cause irritation.
7. Inform day care centers, nannies and school officials if children have ringworm. Ringworm is contagious, especially in children. Wash all towels and bedding shared among the children. Sterilize toys handled among multiple children. Make the school nurse aware of the ringworm infection in case she wants to take extra precautionary measures to prevent spreading.