If you have a young child or teen, don’t be surprised that if at some point they encounter a small skin infection called ringworm. Fungal infections on the skin may sound frightening, but most of the time they are quite easily treated. Ringworm is a common skin infection found in children. Ringworm often displays itself as athlete’s foot or jock itch in male and teens. They all come from the same category of skin infections called Tinea. Mold-like fungi called dermatophytes that live on the dead tissues of skin, hair and nails cause Tinea skin infections. A certified dermatologist is the best one to properly diagnose your child’s ringworm, but here are some quick answers to some common questions you may be asking now.
What does ringworm look like?
Ringworm appears as a red, itchy rash that begins as a small area and may spread larger. The patch typically forms a ring-like shape with a raised, red border and a clear center. This is where “ringworm” gets its name. Its symptoms are frequently confused with other skin conditions, especially eczema. Eczema and ringworm are treated very differently so it is important to let a dermatologist diagnose your child’s condition.
What causes it?
First and foremost, it is important (and comforting) to know that ringworm is by no means caused by an actual worm. Instead ringworm is caused by dermatophyte fungi, which is very common. Ringworm is often caused by contact with other people, or even pets, who have ringworm. Up to 20 percent of the population has one of these infections at any given moment. It is highly contagious and some people are more susceptible than others. Washing your hands, wearing flip-flops in the locker room shower and washing sports clothes regularly are all ways to avoid ringworm in children and teens.
How do we get rid of it?
Depending on the specific type of ringworm your child has and where it is located on the body, a dermatologist will prescribe an effective topical anti-fungal ointment. Oral anti-fungal medication is also given if ringworm appears on the scalp or nails.
If you notice a suspicious patch of irritated skin on your child, it is most beneficial that you let your dermatologist know right away. Ringworm responds very quickly to treatment but can spread and become very uncomfortable to your child if ignored. Olansky Dermatology Associates provides comprehensive pediatric skin care and they are very knowledgeable about the common skin problems that children face.