Should Your Child See a Doctor?

Ringworm

Is this your child's symptom?

  • 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.

Return to School

  • Your child doesn't have to miss any child care or school for ringworm.

When to Call for Ringworm

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

Estimated Urgent Care Wait Times

These are estimated wait times for each Urgent Care clinic. Wait times may vary depending on the severity of the illnesses we are treating. If your child’s illness or injury is life-threating, call 911.

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

And remember, contact your doctor if your child develops any of the 'Call Your Doctor' symptoms.

Disclaimer: This information is not intended 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.

Last Reviewed: 09/01/2012

Last Revised: 09/01/2012

Copyright 1994-2015 Barton D. Schmitt, MD. All rights reserved.