The first time one of my kids had ringworm, his pediatrician is the one that diagnosed it. Frankly, I wasn’t entirely sure what it was at the time. Worms? Like what we wormed our dog for as a puppy?
Well, no. The name ringworm is a bit of a misnomer, as there are no worms involved. It’s actually a fungal infection of the skin, and a common one, especially in small children and pets.
Yes, pets. This is one thing that can actually be spread from your dog or cat to your child. Cats especially seem prone to ringworm.
So, how do you know if your baby has ringworm? Ringworm presents itself as a red, raised, scaly patch (or patches), and often develops its telltale ring (where the center of the patch is not red) as well. Your doctor can diagnose it for sure if you aren’t certain. Often it’s diagnosed by visual inspection alone, but a skin scraping can be done as well.
How do you treat ringworm? Often, over-the-counter remedies (the same ones used to treat athlete’s foot, actually) work fine. These creams contain clotrimazole or miconazole. Your doctor may also elect to prescribe ketoconazole cream. For any of these creams, they’re generally applied topically to the spots twice a day. You will need to keep using the creams until the spots are completely gone, so they don’t come back. This can take two to four weeks. In my experience, living in a hot and humid climate extends the healing time, compared to a cold and dry one.
In the meantime, ringworm is massively contagious. Wash bedding and clothing daily while treating it, and wash your hands after applying the topical creams. If you have pets, inspect them closely for ringworm as well.
To prevent ringworm, keep your pets and their living spaces clean. Wear shoes in public showers, and keeping skin clean, including frequent hand washing. Still, it’s very possible your child will get ringworm at some point; luckily it’s pretty easy to treat.
Meaghan Howard is a stay-at-home mom to three little boys. She’s seen ringworm once or twice, and has managed to live to tell about it.