My Child Has Ringworm – What Now?
How To Get Rid Of Ringworm
Tinea corporis (body ringworm) is not caused by worms; it is a fungal infection which is caused by parasites that live on the cells in the outer layer of your skin. Ringworm shows as a circular red rash with clearer skin inside the circle.
Tinea corporis is related to tinea cruris (jock itch), tinea pedis (athletes foot) and tinea capitis (scalp ringworm).
Causes Of Ringworm
Ringworm is highly contagious and can be spread in the following ways:
- Human to human – direct contact (skin to skin) with an infected person
- Animal to human – Ringworm is quite common in dogs, cats, horses, pigs and cows. It can be spread by direct contact (skin to skin) with the infected animal. In dogs and cats this is usually via petting or grooming.
- Objects to humans – any object infected with ringworm by a person or animal can be passed on to another person or animal. This includes things like bed linen, towels, clothing, gym mats, carpets, shower stalls and grooming tools such as brushes or combs.
- Soil to humans – Although it’s very rare, humans can contract ringworm from direct contact with infected soils.
The ringworm fungus can live on contaminated objects for as long as 18 months
The time from exposure to symptoms showing is generally around 4 to 10 days for body ringworm and 10 to 14 days for ringworm on the scalp.
- Ringworm begins as a small red spot on the skin, as it grows in size it begins to form a ring shape with red edges that can be wet and crusty or dry and scaly
- If the ringworm is on the scalp (tinea capitis) the hairs in the infected area may become brittle and break off – this can cause a small bald patch. Yellowish crusty patches may also appear on the scalp
- Ringworm on the feet (tinea pedis) usually shows as scaly, cracked skin, especially between the toes
Ringworm is generally treated with a topical anti fungal cream or ointment. These are available either over the counter at your pharmacist/chemist or by prescription from your doctor.
- If your ringworm is severe, or involves the scalp, it is important to see your doctor for the most appropriate treatment plan.
- Ringworm remains contagious until you begin treatment
- 24 to 48 hours after you begin treatment you are no longer contagious although the rash can take a few weeks to disappear completely
Ringworm Risk Factors
The chance of contracting ring worm increases if you:
- Live in a warm, humid climate
- Have contact with any infected person or animal
- Share items such as clothes or personal items with someone who has a fungal infection
- Are involved in sports with skin-to-skin contact like wrestling
- Wear restrictive or tight clothing
- Have a weakened immune system
How To Prevent Ringworm Spreading
- Keep the infected area covered
- Keep affected skin clean and dry
- Disinfect all surfaces – use a solution of bleach and water or a disinfectant with a fungicide
- Bathrooms and diaper changing stations should be disinfected (follow product instructions)
- Disinfect all gym mats and sleeping mats after each use (in schools etc)
- Vacuum carpets every day and discard the vacuum bag
- Wash clothing, sheets, pajamas and other items daily during infection, best washed in hot water and use a hot dryer if you have one.
- If your pet is infected take them to the veterinarian immediately
- Avoid close contact with infected pets or people
- Wash hands thoroughly after applying any cream or ointment
- Properly dispose of infected bandages etc
- Wear sandals or slip-ons etc at the gym, in locker rooms or at the pool etc
- Don’t share things like pillows, towels, hats, or any personal items with an infected person
- Remove stuffed animals and other soft items from the infected person’s room
- If you have an outbreak, cover all soft furnishings and keep the room well ventilated
Reference: American Academy of Pediatrics Managing Infectious Diseases in Child Care and Schools pages 141-142·