Ringworm: What To Know About This Infectious Skin Condition

Parents and educators want children to catch the learning bug in school as they absorb information and thrive. Unfortunately, children are susceptible to colds and flus during the school year when they congregate together in classrooms. But did you know that children are at risk of spreading or contracting skin conditions as well?

Ringworm is an incredibly contagious medical ailment that affects the skin. Read on to learn more about ringworm and learn how to spot whether your child has this condition.

What Is Ringworm?

Ringworm is not a rash caused by a worm. In fact, ringworm is a fungal infection that shows up on the skin. The spores live on the outer layers of your skin and are easily spread through direct contact. Children spread ringworm through touch, and also when they share combs, clothing, towels, and other objects that can carry the spores. You can even contract ringworm if you pet or handle an animal with the infection.

What Does Ringworm Look Like?

The fungal infection initially looks like a small red rash anywhere on the skin. Ringworm usually appears on the arms or legs, but can also manifest on your child's scalp. The scaly rash develops a ring-like, slightly raised shape and can slowly expand in diameter. The skin in the center of the scaly ring often appears normal.

Sometimes, ringworm appears as a series of tiny red bumps rather than a distinctive ring shape. Your best bet is to visit an urgent care provider to rule out other rashes.

Does Ringworm Go Away?

Ringworm can disappear after a few months on its own, but your child will still be contagious and can spread it to others. Your doctor or urgent care provider can prescribe an over-the-counter ointment to banish the fungus for good. However, ringworm on the scalp requires oral anti-fungal medication to rid your child of symptoms.

In the meantime, your child can be less contagious with a few simple measures. Make sure he or she washes their hands after they touch the rash to ensure contagious cells are gone. Wash their clothing and bedding in hot water as well. This step ensures contaminated skin cells cannot reach others.

Can I prevent Future Ringworm Infections?

While the condition is very contagious, your child can take care to prevent ringworm. Have he or she wear skin-exposing shoes at public pools and other community areas. Keep their skin as dry as possible since fungal infections thrive in damp environments.

Have them wash their hands frequently at school, especially during known outbreaks. Ask your child to not share personal belongings or borrow others' clothing, hats, and combs.

Finally, check your pet for ringworm to rule out future infections.