How To Detect And Treat The Symptoms Of Ringworm In Children

Being a mother is not always an easy task. Adding an ill child to the equation makes it even more challenging. With this said, what happens if your child gets a fungal infection? Do the marks disappear? Can I treat it? How do I know what it is? Don't worry, a fungal infection is a fairly common thing. This article will explain to you everything you need to know about your child's situation.

What Is Ringworm?

No, it is not caused by worms! Dermatophytosis or Tinea, better known as ringworm, is a type of fungal infection of the skin. This fungal infection can occur on any part of the body. The different names given depend on the area of the body it has affected. This infection does, however, stay on the surface of the skin. It does not cause any sort of disease under the skin's surface. Let's take a look at the different areas where it may occur:

  • On the scalp - Tinea Capitis
  • On the palms of the hands - Tinea Manuum
  • On the fingernails and toenails - Tinea Unguium
  • On the groin, inner thighs, and bottom - Tinea Cruris (also known as jock itch)
  • On the soles of the feet - Tinea Pedis (also known as athlete's foot)
Bottom Line:
Tinea is a type of fungal infection that can occur on basically any part of the skin on the body. The main target areas include the scalp, hands, nails, feet, groin, and bottom.

How Do Children Get Ringworm?

Little girl sitting on a hardwood floor playing with a dog

Children are very inquisitive and busy beings. With this said, they are constantly in contact with the ground and other people. As this infection is contagious, your child can pick it up from basically anything. It can be from toys, bedding, towels, clothes, hairbrushes or hats. Furthermore, children can also get infected during school. This is due to contact with other children who are infected and usually from to skin-to-skin contact. Another source is from pets who are infected because your child can also pick it up from the soil in your garden or at the park.

Bottom Line:
Children tend to explore and touch more objects without thinking about the consequences. This is what may lead to your child getting infected. The biggest possibility is due to skin-to-skin contact with persons or animals that are already infected.

The Signs And Symptoms

The first thing that you will see is red rings on your child's skin. The rings usually look dry and flaky. Inside the ring, it is typically smooth. At first it will look like red patches, however, as time passes, the rash will develop and the rings will get bigger. Usually, it can become about 1 inch in diameter, especially if it is untreated. Also, the area may become moist or fill with pus.

The fungal infection which usually occurs the most is that on the scalp of a child. If the scalp presents flaky skin, you may think it is just dandruff or cradle cap. However, your child will complain that the area is itching. It may also be noticeable as it also causes small bald spots in the hair.

Bottom Line:
The first signs of infection are red patches on the skin. These patches start to develop and form red, flaky rings that are smooth in the middle. If it occurs on the scalp, it usually causes bald spots.

What Treatments Are Available?

Photo of Applying Antifungal Cream

Most fungal infections can be treated by using an antifungal cream which is applied directly to the area of the skin which is affected. This can be purchased over-the-counter. Start by cleaning your child's skin with only water and cotton wool. Pat it dry and then apply the cream. It should be applied about two to three times a day for a week, where the infection should start clearing up. It is best to use the cream for another two weeks after the infection has cleared, just to prevent re-infection.

However, fungal infections of the scalp are found at the root of the hair follicles. Topical treatments do not work here, as it does not absorb into the skin to the root of the cause. Fungal infections of the scalp need to be treated by administering prescription antifungal medication orally. This allows the treatment to spread throughout the body and reach the source of the problem. There are many different antifungal treatments available for this specific area of fungal infection. You may also need to use a special shampoo to wash the scalp. If there are no signs of improvement, it is best to go see a doctor for further advice.

Because ringworm is so contagious, you may find yourself in need of a treatment as well! In that case, take a look at natural supplements which provide necessary relief for the incessant itching so you can get on with your day.

Bottom Line:
Treatment depends on the area that is infected. Most types can be treated by using a non-prescription cream, whilst a fungal infection of the scalp can be treated by taking prescription medication.

How To Prevent Ringworm

It is best to tell your child that they may not share brushes, combs, hair clips, or hats with other children. Also, keep your child's nails short at all times because this will help to prevent them from scratching the infection and damaging the skin, as this can also spread the infection. If you own any pets, like a cat or a dog, it is best to take them to the vet to get treated as to prevent re-infection in your children or even yourself.

A few other preventative tips to consider include:

parent helping child wash hands
  • Wearing shoes in locker rooms and public pools or bathing areas.
  • Ensure you wash your child's bedding and towels regularly.
  • Wash regularly, especially after constant skin-to-skin contact.
  • Ensure your child changes their underwear and socks regularly.
  • Ensure your child dries themselves properly after bathing.
Bottom Line:
Most children will get a fungal infection some or other time in their life. However, there are a few tips to follow to low the chances. Also, you can educate your child about cleanliness and hygiene.

Our Ultimate Take Home Message

It is clear to see that this type of infection is probably going to occur in your child's life at some time or another. This is due to skin-to-skin contact or contact with objects which have previously been in contact with someone who is infected. It is best to know what signs and symptoms to look out for and then treat them accordingly. Also, ensuring that you treat the specific type of infection based on the area of the body it occurs. Treatments include non-prescription antifungal creams for topical use, as well as prescription medication which must be taken orally.

However, you can still try to prevent this situation from happening by explaining to your child about hygiene and sharing personal things. You as a mother can also help prevent this by ensure your child's living area is clean, like bedding, towel, and clothes. Furthermore, you can also ensure your pets are clean and healthy.

So, to all the mothers out there, just relax! Your child will be okay. Ensure early detection, use the appropriate treatment, and keep things clean.

Researched and written by experts, brought to you by our team at Mommy Authority.

Susannah is a nutritionist, who graduated from King's College, London. Married to her childhood sweetheart, Jack, they took the brave move a few years ago to relocate to Europe (France) where they run an organic farm together. Susannah still has her own small private practice where she provides nutritional advice and guidance. She loves what she does and it shows in her writing. We are very happy to have her contributions and expertise on our site. She loves all things different and when she isn't out on the farm or in her clinic, she can be found wine tasting in the many wonderful wineries that can be found in the region!