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Children's Symptoms > Skin - Localized Symptoms > Ringworm
Ringworm

DEFINITION

  • Fungal skin infection causing 1 or more ring-shaped spots

Symptoms

  • Round pink patch
  • Clearing of the center as the patch grows
  • Raised, rough, scaly border
  • Usually ½ to 1 inch (12 -25 mm) in size
  • Ring slowly increases in size
  • Mildly itchy

Cause

  • A fungus infection of the skin often transmitted from puppies or kittens who have it.
  • Less commonly transmitted human-to-human because if requires direct skin contact.  An exception is that an epidemic from ringworm can occur among wrestlers because of close body contact during matches.
  • Occasionally transmitted from fungus in the soil.

Return to School

  • Your child doesn't have to miss any child care or school for ringworm.

See More Appropriate Topic (instead of this one) If


WHEN TO CALL YOUR DOCTOR

Call Your Doctor Within 24 Hours (between 9 am and 4 pm) If

  • Pus is draining from the rash

Call Your Doctor During Weekday Office Hours If

  • You think your child needs to be seen
  • Scalp is involved
  • More than 3 spots are present
  • Teen is a wrestler
  • Rash continues to spread after 1 week on treatment
  • Rash lasts longer than 4 weeks
  • You have other questions or concerns

Parent Care at Home If

  • Mild ringworm and you don't think your child needs to be seen

HOME CARE ADVICE FOR RINGWORM

  1. Antifungal Cream:
    • Use Lamisil, Micatin or Lotrimin cream (no prescription needed) 2 times per day.
    • Apply it to the rash and 1 inch (2.5 cm) beyond its borders.
    • Continue the cream for at least 7 days after the rash is cleared.
  2. Contagiousness:
    • Your child doesn't have to miss any child care or school for ringworm.
    • Ringworm of the skin is mildly contagious. It requires direct skin-to-skin contact.
    • The type acquired from pets is not transmitted from human to human, only from animal to human.
    • After 48 hours of treatment, ringworm is not contagious at all.
    • Wrestlers, however, should avoid all wrestling until evaluated by your child's doctor.
  3. Expected Course: It clears completely in 3 to 4 weeks. For any recurrences, suspect the household puppy or kitten and take it to the vet for diagnosis and treatment.
  4. Call Your Doctor If:
    • Rash continues to spread after 1 week on treatment
    • Rash is not cleared by 4 weeks
    • Your child becomes worse

And remember, contact your doctor if your child develops any of the "Call Your Doctor" symptoms.


Disclaimer: This information is not intended be a substitute for professional medical advice. It is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information.


Author and Senior Reviewer: Barton D. Schmitt, M.D.

Last Reviewed: 9/15/2011

Last Revised: 8/1/2011

Content Set: Pediatric HouseCalls Symptom Checker

Copyright 1994-2012 Barton D. Schmitt, M.D.


Additional Resources:

 How to use the Adult Health Topics pages
 When to call the doctor
 Reviewers of Clinical Content

Disclaimer: The information contained in these topics is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, it is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information.

Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider before starting any new treatment or discontinuing an existing treatment. Talk with your healthcare provider about any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Nothing contained in these topics is intended to be for medical diagnosis or treatment.

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