Ringworm, also known as tinea, has nothing to do with worms–or any parasites. Instead, it’s caused by harmless fungus. Still; it can cause discomfort, not to mention the fact that it’s hardly a pretty sight. And because it’s highly contagious, it can quickly get out of hand. Here’s what to do if you spot those trademark raised red rings on your child’s skin.
Ringworm appears as a round, red or silver patch on the skin, rough to the touch and sometimes itchy. As the fungus proliferates, the ring can grow larger, and join with other patches. The scalp, body, feet, groin and nails are all possible sites for infection, with each area presenting with slightly different symptoms, but always with the telltale scaly red rash. In cases left to run rampant, the rash can become blistered–or allergic reactions can occur.
Ringworm is most prevalent in children,, but babies can get it too–since it’s spread by direct and indirect exposure.
Interestingly, scientists believe certain individuals are genetically predisposed to catching ringworm. But anyone who comes into contact with an infected person or pet, infected towels, bedding, hairbrushes, hats, or other items of clothing has a chance of getting it. The fungus thrives in moist, wet, environments, so walking barefoot in public shower areas or around heated pools can also incur infection.
Once you’ve had your GP diagnose your child’s rash, the treatment can be simple and straightforward: antifungal creams, tablets or shampoo; can be used for a week or up to a month depending on severity.
To help avoid ringworm, encourage regular hand washing, and wash clothing and bed linen at a high temperatures to kill the fungus.