What is ringworm?
Ringworm is a skin infection caused by a fungus.
What are the symptoms?
- The infection causes a rash that may have a ring shape with a raised edge.
- It can have scaly patches that are quite itchy and flaky. They can happen on the scalp, body, groin or feet.
- When the scalp is infected, there is often an area of baldness.
- Fungal infections on the feet are also know as “athlete’s foot”. They are usually very itchy and cause cracking between the toes.
How is it spread?
When someone with ringworm touches or scratches the rash, the fungus sticks to the fingers or gets under the fingernails. The fungus is then spread when that person touches someone else or through contact with contaminated items like combs, unwashed clothing and shower or pool surfaces.
It's also possible to become infected from contact with animals, like cats and dogs.
How is it treated?
Ringworm can be cured with an antifungal prescription medication. Some medications are taken by mouth. Others are ointments or creams that are applied to the infected area.
What can parents do?
- If you think your child has ringworm see your doctor.
- Make sure his hands are washed often and especially after touching the infected skin.
- If your child has ringworm on the scalp, make sure that no one uses her comb, hairbrush, face cloths and towels.
- If your child has ringworm, he should not return to child care or to school until after treatment has started.
- Wear sandals or shoes at gyms, lockers and pools to avoid getting the fungus on the feet and spreading it if you have it.
- Don’t touch pets with bald spots.
Source: Well Beings: A Guide to Health in Child Care (3rd edition)
Reviewed by the following CPS committees:
Public Education Advisory Committee
Last updated: August 2008