The good news for all parents is that ringworm infections are not caused by worms. Rather, ringworm infection is the name given to the condition that is caused by a fungal infection, usually on the scalp and body. This condition is diagnosed when a patch appears on the body or the scalp, which is circular, flat in the center, and has a raised border reddish in color.
If your child has been diagnosed with ringworm, there is no reason to fret. About 5% of the children in United States suffer from ringworm infection. Ringworm in the scalp areas are seen in children from urban areas, while ringworm on the body is seen in children from rural areas. Usually children get infected with ringworm from other infected children. There is also a possibility that your child was infected by your pets, as cats and dogs too get infected with ringworm.
Types of Ringworm
The ringworm infection is classified based on the part of the body where the infection occurs:
- Body Infection: The clinical term is 'tinea corporis'.
- Scalp Infection: The clinical term is 'tinea capitis'.
- Feet Infection: The clinical term is 'tinea pedis'. The condition is also known as 'Athlete's Foot'.
- Groin Infection: The clinical term is 'tinea cruris'.
When the infection is present on the body or the groin area, the rash resembles a red circular lesion with a raised scaly border. These areas are usually very itchy. Scalp infection causes dandruff and hair loss, while infection on the leg causes an itchy rash which is patchy along with scaling on the toes. Athlete's foot is usually seen in preteen children.
Home Remedies for Scalp Ringworm
A doctor usually prescribes oral medications if the diagnosis is scalp ringworm in children. However, when you are waiting for the medicines to work, here are some remedies that will help speed up the process and also provide additional relief to your child:
- The oral medications that the doctor will prescribe will work best when it is taken along with some fat. Hence, give it to the child with a glass of milk or along with a meal and not with water or juice.
- There is very little that you can do to stop your child from scratching the infected area at night. However, during the daytime try and distract the child as much as possible to avoid episodes of scratching. Paints, crayons, and clay serve as an excellent means of distraction.
- Research has shown that OTC antifungal creams can do more harm than good. Avoid them at all costs unless it has been specified by the doctor.
Remedies for Body Ringworm
A doctor usually prescribes antifungal medications if the diagnosis is body ringworm. Remember that body ringworm diagnosis can be confused with other skin disorders like eczema, and, hence, you must get the condition diagnosed by a good doctor and not start any kind of self medication. In cases of body ringworm condition, there is very little that you can do except prevent the child from scratching the area. OTC medications are available, but check with the doctor before using them.
There is no reason to keep the children away from school if they have been diagnosed with ringworm. However, it is advisable to inform the children about the same that will ensure that the teacher can take special care of their needs, if any, and also educate the children more about personal hygiene like not sharing combs and caps. If you want to take further precaution, then you can cover the area of the infection for two days from the day that you start treatment. For the infection to spread there has to be direct contact. After two days, the infection is usually not contagious.
Also, your children may be infected by ringworm from cats and dogs. So, if someone from your family is infected with ringworm, do get your pets examined. Finding the source of the infection is as important as treating the infection. Lastly, ringworm is commonly a misdiagnosis for other infections, like nummular eczema and pityriasis rosea. So, do visit a skin specialist or a dermatologist rather than a general physician.