Children's Hospital Colorado

Ringworm

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  • Skin infection with 1 or more ring-shaped spots
  • Has a rough edge and clearing of the center
  • Caused by a fungus

Symptoms of Ringworm

  • Round pink patch
  • Clearing of the center as the patch grows
  • Raised, rough, scaly border
  • Usually ½ to 1 inch (12 -25 mm) in size
  • Ring slowly increases in size
  • Often only on one side of the face or body
  • Mildly itchy

Cause

  • An infection of the skin caused by a fungus. It is not caused by a worm.
  • Can often be spread to humans from puppies or kittens that have it. Pet rodents also can carry it.
  • Rarely, can be spread human-to-human. It needs direct skin contact to be passed this way. An exception is that ringworm can occur often among wrestlers. This is because of close body contact during matches.
  • Sometimes, caused by fungus in the soil.

Call Doctor Within 24 Hours

  • Pus is draining from the rash

Call Doctor During Office Hours

  • Scalp is involved
  • More than 3 spots are present
  • Child is a wrestler
  • Rash gets bigger or spreads after 1 week on treatment
  • Rash lasts more than 4 weeks
  • You think your child needs to be seen
  • You have other questions or concerns

Self Care at Home

  • Mild ringworm

Care Advice for Ringworm

  1. What You Should Know About Ringworm:
    • Ringworm is a fungus infection of the skin.
    • Often it's caught from puppies or kittens that have it.
    • Here is some care advice that should help.
  2. Anti-Fungal Cream:
    • Use an anti-fungal cream (such as Lotrimin) 2 times per day. No prescription is needed.
    • Put it on the rash and 1 inch (2.5 cm) beyond its borders.
    • Keep using the cream for at least 7 days after the rash is cleared.
  3. Return to School:
    • Your child doesn't have to miss any child care or school for ringworm.
    • Sometimes, ringworm of the skin can be passed on to others. It requires direct skin-to-skin contact.
    • Ringworm from pets is not passed from human to human. It is only passed from animal to human.
    • After 48 hours of treatment, ringworm does not spread to others at all.
    • Wrestlers: Can return to wrestling after 3 days of treatment. Continue treatment until gone.
  4. What to Expect:
    • It goes away in 3 to 4 weeks.
    • If it comes back, suspect the household puppy or kitten.
    • Take your animal to the vet for an exam and treatment.
  5. Call Your Doctor If:
    • Rash gets bigger or spreads after 1 week on treatment
    • Rash is not gone by 4 weeks
    • You think your child needs to be seen
    • Your child becomes worse

Care Advice for Ringworm

Ringworm Rash on Arm

Notice that the area is round and pink. It has a raised rough scaly border. The ring slowly increases in size. It is usually slightly itchy.

Ringworm Rash on Leg

Patch of ringworm on upper thigh that has been present for three weeks.

Disclaimer

The information contained in these topics is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, it is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information.

Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider before starting any new treatment or discontinuing an existing treatment. Talk with your healthcare provider about any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Nothing contained in these topics is intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment.

  • Not a Substitute - The information and materials in Pediatric HouseCalls Symptom Checker should not be used as a substitute for the care and knowledge that your physician can provide to you.
  • Supplement - The information and materials presented here in Pediatric HouseCalls Symptom Checker are meant to supplement the information that you obtain from your physician. If there is a disagreement between the information presented herein and what your physician has told you -- it is more likely that your physician is correct. He or she has the benefit of knowing your child's medical problems.
  • Limitations - You should recognize that the information and materials presented here in Pediatric HouseCalls Symptom Checker have the following limitations, in comparison to being examined by your own physician:
    • You can have a conversation with your child's doctor.
    • Your child's doctor can perform a physical examination and any necessary tests.
    • Your child could have an underlying medical problem that requires a physician to detect.
    • If your child is taking medications, they could influence how he experiences various symptoms.

If you think that your child is having a medical emergency, call 911 or the number for the local emergency ambulance service NOW!

And when in doubt, call your child's doctor NOW or go to the closest emergency department.

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