Ringworm is a mild fungal infection affecting the skin. Children can acquire ringworm on different parts of the body including:
- Feet (athlete’s foot or tinea pedis)
- Body (typical ringworm or tinea corporis)
- Scalp (tinea capitis)
- Groin (jock itch or tinea cruris)
What are the signs and symptoms?
Ringworm can be easily identified although it can be confused with other skin rashes. The characteristic ringworm rash on the body appears as a reddened round lesion with a scaly perimeter and these areas can be itchy.
Even though tinea capitis can lead to dandruff-like scaling and/or hair loss, athlete’s foot typically causes a patchy, itchy rash with fissures and scaling in between the toes.
A diagnosis is made based on the appearance of the ringworm rash. A culture especially a scalp culture for tinea capitis can be carried out though. The doctor might also check skin scrapings under a microscope using a potassium hydroxide stain to check for fungal hyphae.
Since topical steroids are capable of changing the appearance of rash, the parent should mention to the doctor that he/she has been applying a topical cream on the rash of the child.
An over-the-counter antifungal ointment, cream or powder are commonly used in treating the skin condition with an exception for tine capitis which is harder to treat and often necessitates several months of using an oral medication.
The commonly used over-the-counter anti-fungal treatments include Miconazole, Clotrimazole and Ketoconazole.
Important facts about ringworm in children
- There are certain conditions that are oftentimes misdiagnosed as ringworm particularly nummular eczema, granuloma annular and pityriasis rosea.
- Ringworm is only minimally contagious, thus children who are under treatment can continue to go to school or daycare especially if the rash can be covered for the initial 48 hours of treatment. Aside from infected individuals, you can acquire the infection from infected dogs and cats.
- Athlete’s foot is considered unusual among pre-teen children. These children usually develop sweaty socks syndrome or contact dermatitis if they have an itchy reddened rash on the feet.
- Tinea capitis or ringworm that develops in the scalp is harder to treat and the fungi responsible might developed resistance which is why higher doses are given. Make sure that this medication is taken with a glass of milk or fatty meal to promote better absorption. You can also utilize a shampoo that contains selenium sulfide so that the child is less contagious.