First Aid: Ringworm

First Aid: Ringworm

First AidRingworm is a common fungal infection of the skin seen most often on the scalp, body, feet ("athlete's foot"), or groin ("jock itch"). Ringworm actually isn't a worm at all — its name comes from how it looks, like a red ring or group of rings with clear centers.

Signs and Symptoms

On the skin:

  • starts as a red, scaly patch or bump
  • itching
  • discomfort
  • circular pattern with raised, bumpy, borders (often with a scaly center)

On the scalp:

  • may start as a round, reddish, pimple-like sore
  • becomes patchy, flaky, scaly, or crusty (may first be mistaken for dandruff)
  • causes swelling, tenderness, redness, bald patches (usually circular), and broken hairs

What to Do

  • Call your doctor if you think your child has symptoms of ringworm.
  • Follow the doctor's treatment instructions carefully. Depending on the type and site of the infection, these may include using over-the-counter or prescription cream for the skin, or prescription oral medication for the scalp.
  • Discourage your child from picking at the infected area since this could cause infection.
  • Contact your doctor if increasing redness, swelling, or pus occurs.

Think Prevention!

Prevent ringworm by encouraging your kids to:

  • avoid sharing combs, brushes, hair accessories, pillows, hats, and headphones
  • wear flip-flops at the pool or in the locker room shower
  • wash sports clothing regularly
  • shower after contact sports
  • wash hands well and often

Reviewed by: Steven Dowshen, MD
Date reviewed: April 2014

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Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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