Home > Kids > Children's General Health > Childhood Illnesses > How Contagious Is Ringworm?
|

Expert Iconexpert advice MORE

How Contagious Is Ringworm?

Pediatrics Expert Advice from Henry Bernstein, M.D.

Q: Is ringworm contagious? How should it be treated?

A: Despite what its name suggests, ringworm is not caused by a worm, but rather by a fungal (yeast) infection. It looks like a circular rash on the skin that may appear as an itchy, red, flaky patch. The center of the circular rash heals first, leaving the ring of redness on the outside; hence its name. Ringworm can also appear on the scalp as a flaky patch of baldness.

Over-the-counter anti-fungal creams found in pharmacies can be used to treat this skin infection. It usually takes up to a week or so to clear. If the ringworm returns or seems to worsen, have your child's pediatrician evaluate it. Instead of putting cream on the skin, taking a medicine by mouth (tablets or liquids) may be necessary, particularly when the fungal infection involves the scalp.

Ringworm is contagious (spread to others) through direct contact with an infected person or animal. It can also be spread indirectly through contact with the clothes, combs, or brushes of others who have it. Once treatment has begun and the circular rash begins to shrink, the rash won't be contagious. Until then, however, a person with ringworm can spread it to others.

To help prevent your child from getting ringworm after contact with an infected person or animal, it's important that your child wash his hands often and avoids sharing personal items (clothes, hats, brushes, and combs). If your child already has ringworm, be sure to wash bathroom surfaces and toys daily. If your pet has a rash, have it evaluated by a veterinarian. If it's caused by a fungus, your child should avoid contact with the animal until the rash has been treated.

Hank Bernstein
Children's Hospital

More on: Expert Advice

Henry Bernstein, M.D., is currently the associate chief of the Division of General Pediatrics and director of Primary Care at Children's Hospital, Boston. He also has an academic appointment at Harvard Medical School.


Please note: This "Expert Advice" area of FamilyEducation.com should be used for general information purposes only. Advice given here is not intended to provide a basis for action in particular circumstances without consideration by a competent professional. Before using this Expert Advice area, please review our General and Medical Disclaimers.

highlights

Vote Now for the Children's & Teen Choice Book Awards
Voting is open now through May 3 for the Children's and Teen Choice Book Awards — the only national book awards program where the winning author, illustrator, and books of the year are selected by young readers. Encourage your child to vote for his favorites today!

Find Today's Newest & Best Children's Books!
Looking for newly released books for your child? Try our new Book Finder tool to search for new books by age, type, and theme, and create reading lists for kids!

10 Best Outdoor Toys of 2015
Looking for an amazing toy that will keep your child playing outside until the sun goes down? See our picks for 10 hot new outdoor toys for all ages.

Registered for Kindergarten — Now What?
Wondering what to do now that you've signed your child up for kindergarten? Try our award-winning Kindergarten Readiness app! This easy-to-use checklist comes with games and activities to help your child build essential skills for kindergarten. Download the Kindergarten Readiness app today!

stay connected

Sign up for our free email newsletters and receive the latest advice and information on all things parenting.

Enter your email address to sign up or manage your account.

Facebook icon Facebook icon Follow Us on Pinterest

editor’s picks