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Health Information For Parents
Ringworm is a type of fungal skin infection. Fungi (the plural of fungus) are microscopic plant-like organisms that thrive in damp, warm environments. They’re usually not dangerous, but sometimes can cause disease. When they infect the skin, they cause mild but annoying rashes. Fungal skin infections are also known as tinea infections.
When fungus grows in the area of the groin, upper thighs, and buttocks, it is called jock itch. When it grows on the feet, it is called athlete’s foot.
But when fungus grows anywhere else on the body, it’s known as ringworm. Its medical name is tinea capitis when it’s on the scalp, and tinea corporis when it’s on the rest of the body. On the nails it is known as onychomycosis.
Ringworm on the skin starts as a red, scaly patch or bump. Over time, it may look like one or more rings with raised, bumpy, scaly borders (the center is often clear). This ring pattern gave ringworm its name, but not every infected person has it. The skin may flake, peel, or crack, and it can itch, sting, burn, or feel uncomfortable.
Ringworm on the scalp may start as a small sore that looks like a pimple before becoming patchy, flaky, or scaly. These flakes may look like dandruff. It can make some hair fall out or break into stubble, leaving a bald spot. It also can make the scalp swollen, tender, and red.
Sometimes, it causes a pus-filled mass known as a kerion, which can be confused with impetigo or cellulitis (bacterial infections). When the scalp is infected, it can cause swollen lymph nodes at the back of the head or neck.
Ringworm on the nails may affect one or more nails on the hands or feet. The nails may become thick, white or yellowish, and brittle.
Ringworm is caused by fungi that normally live on the skin, hair, and nails called dermatophytes. When the environment they live in gets warm and moist, they grow out of control and start to cause symptoms.
Yes. Ringworm can spread:
Besides spreading from person to person, ringworm can come from pets or other animals (usually cats, dogs, or rodents). It thrives in warm, moist environments such as public showers, locker rooms, or pool areas and can spread when people are in close physical contact. That’s why it’s common in people who play contact sports such as wrestling. It can also be passed on objects like combs, brushes, hats, towels, or clothing.
Minor skin injuries (such as scratches), too much exposure to heat and humidity, and some health conditions (such as diabetes, obesity, or immune system problems) can make a person more likely to develop it.
A doctor can often diagnose ringworm just by looking at it and asking questions about the symptoms and the child’s lifestyle. Sometimes the doctor will scrape off a small sample of the flaky infected skin to look at under a microscope or to test in a laboratory.
Using over-the-counter (OTC) antifungal creams, sprays, or powders may solve a mild infection. More serious infections may need prescription medicine, either topical (put on skin) or in pill/syrup form.
Ringworm on the nails or scalp usually is treated with medicine taken by mouth for 1 to 3 months. An antifungal shampoo prescribed by the doctor can help prevent the spread to other people.
Your child should use the medicine as long as is recommended, even if the rash seems to be getting better. If not, the infection can come back and spread to other parts of the body.
To help heal the skin, it’s important to keep the affected area clean and dry. Your child should:
Most mild cases of ringworm usually clear up in 2 to 4 weeks. But treatment might be needed for up to 3 months if the infection is more serious, or affects the nails or the scalp.
Ringworm can often be prevented. To avoid it, kids and teens should:
Ringworm is a common fungal infection of the skin. Here’s what to do if your child has ringworm.
Athlete’s foot is a common fungal skin infection. It’s generally easy to treat and prevent.
Jock itch is a pretty common fungal infection of the groin and upper thighs. It is generally easy to treat and prevent.
Germs are the microscopic bacteria, viruses, fungi, and protozoa that can cause disease.
Our skin protects the network of tissues, muscles, bones, nerves, blood vessels, and everything else inside our bodies. Hair and nails are actually modified types of skin.
Pityriasis versicolor is a rash caused by a fungus. It can appear over the chest, shoulders, and back, and is a common cause of skin rashes in teens.
Got flakes? Most cases of dandruff don’t require a visit to a doctor’s office. Treat them at home with special, over-the-counter dandruff shampoos.
This harmless rash often forms a telltale “Christmas tree” pattern on the back that makes it easy to identify.
Anyone can get athlete’s foot. Find out how to avoid this itchy skin condition in this article for kids.
Although the name athlete’s foot sounds funny, if you have this skin infection, you’re probably not laughing. The good news is that it is generally easy to treat.
If you’re worried about dandruff, you’re not alone. Dandruff can start in puberty, and lots of teens and adults live with it. Learn how to control it.
Jock itch is a pretty common fungal infection of the groin and upper thighs. It is generally easy to treat – and avoid – by following a few simple steps.
Ringworm isn’t a worm at all – it’s the name for a type of fungal skin infection. The good news is that ringworm is easy to treat.
Germs are tiny organisms that can cause disease – and they’re so small that they can creep into your system without you noticing. Find out how to protect yourself.
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.
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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