Visit our foundation to give a gift.
View Locations Near Me
Main Campus – Hartford
Connecticut Children’s – Waterbury
Urgent Care – Farmington
Specialty Care Center – Danbury
Connecticut Children’s Surgery Center at Farmington
Specialty Care Center – Fairfield
Search All Locations
Find a doctor
Find A Doctor
Request an Appointment
Amenities and Services
Who’s Who on Care Team
Getting Ready for Surgery
What to Expect—Picture Stories
Pay a Bill
Understanding the Different Fees
Pricing Transparency and Estimates
Raytheon Technologies Family Resource Center
Family Advisory Council
Legal Advocacy: Benefits, Education, Housing
Electronic Health Records
Share Your Story
Pay a Bill
Login to MyChart
Clinical Support Services Referrals
About the Network
Join the Network
Graduate Medical Education
Continuing Medical Education
MOC/Practice Quality Improvement
Educating Practices in the Community (EPIC)
Learning & Performance
Meet our Physician Relations Team
Request Medical Records
Join our Referring Provider Advisory Board
View our Physician Callback Standards
Read & Subscribe to Medical News
Register for Email Updates
Update Your Practice Information
Refer a Patient
Find and Print Health Info
Health Information For Kids
It sounds like the name of a creep-crawly bug. But ringworm isn’t an animal — it’s a contagious infection on the skin, scalp, or nails that’s caused by a type of germ called a fungus.
It’s called ringworm because of how the rash looks — it’s shaped like a ring that is red and swollen on the edge and healthy-looking in the center. Ringworm affects people of all ages, but is especially common in kids.
Ringworm is contagious, which means it can easily spread from person to person. It can spread when they’re in close contact or when they share things like combs, brushes, towels, clothing, and sports gear.
The fungus needs a warm, dark, and humid place to grow. So public showers, pools, and locker rooms are common places where kids might pick up ringworm infections. It can also spread from pets and other animals, like dogs, cats, or rodents.
Ringworm can be a little annoying — or really uncomfortable. On the skin, it usually starts out as a small red area the size of a pea. As it grows, it spreads out in a circle or ring, or even several rings. The edges of the rings are raised and red, and the rash may itch, sting, or burn.
On the scalp it begins as a small bump or scaly patch that looks like dandruff. The bump or patch gets bigger, and the hair in the infected area can break off. This can leave scaly patches of baldness, but the hair will grow back.
A doctor can usually figure out if you have ringworm by looking at the rash on your skin or scalp. Your doctor may swab or scrape off a skin sample or clip off a piece of hair or nail to test for fungus. But don’t worry, this won’t hurt!
Treatment is usually simple. For mild cases on the skin, your doctor may have you apply a powder, cream, or spray that contains medicine that kills the fungus. This should make the rash go away in a week or two. Sometimes you’ll need to use the medicine for up to a month or more to get rid of the ringworm completely. You’ll also need to keep your skin clean and dry.
If the infection doesn’t clear up, your doctor might prescribe a stronger medicine. This one will be the kind you swallow.
For ringworm of the scalp or fungus in the nails, you’ll need to take medicine by mouth. You may also need to use a special shampoo to stop the fungus from spreading to other people.
You can do your part to avoid ringworm. Be sure to:
You know they can hurt you, but what are these invisible creatures? Find out in this article for kids.
Anyone can get athlete’s foot. Find out how to avoid this itchy skin condition in this article for kids.
Jock itch is a pretty common skin infection of the groin and upper thighs. It is usually affects teens, but sometimes kids can get it. Find out what it is and how to prevent it in this article for kids.
Learn about rashes in a flash. Check out our article just for kids!
Everybody has dry skin once in a while, but eczema is more than just that. If your skin is dry, itchy, red, sore, and scaly, you may have eczema. Learn more about this uncomfortable condition and what you can to do stop itching!
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
© 1995-2020 KidsHealth®. All rights reserved.
Images provided by The Nemours Foundation, iStock, Getty Images, Veer, Shutterstock, and Clipart.com.