Should Your Child See a Doctor?



  • Fungal skin infection causing 1 or more ring-shaped spots


  • 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
  • Mildly itchy


  • A fungus infection of the skin often transmitted from puppies or kittens who have it.
  • Less commonly transmitted human-to-human because it requires direct skin contact. An exception is that an epidemic from ringworm can occur among wrestlers because of close body contact during matches.
  • Occasionally transmitted from fungus in the soil.

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

When to Call Your Doctor for Ringworm

Call Your Doctor Within 24 Hours (between 9 am and 4 pm) If

  • Pus is draining from the rash

Call Your Doctor During Weekday Office Hours If

  • You think your child needs to be seen
  • Scalp is involved
  • More than 3 spots are present
  • Teen is a wrestler
  • Rash continues to spread after 1 week on treatment
  • Rash lasts longer than 4 weeks
  • You have other questions or concerns

Parent Care at Home If

  • Mild ringworm and you don't think your child needs to be seen

Home Care Advice for Ringworm

  1. Antifungal Cream:
    • Use Lamisil, Micatin or Lotrimin cream (no prescription needed) 2 times per day.
    • Apply it to the rash and 1 inch (2.5 cm) beyond its borders.
    • Continue the cream for at least 7 days after the rash is cleared.
  2. Contagiousness:
    • Your child doesn't have to miss any child care or school for ringworm.
    • Ringworm of the skin is mildly contagious. It requires direct skin-to-skin contact.
    • The type acquired from pets is not transmitted from human to human, only from animal to human.
    • After 48 hours of treatment, ringworm is not contagious at all.
    • Wrestlers, however, should avoid all wrestling until evaluated by your child's doctor.
  3. Expected Course: It clears completely in 3 to 4 weeks. For any recurrences, suspect the household puppy or kitten and take it to the vet for diagnosis and treatment.
  4. Call Your Doctor If:
    • Rash continues to spread after 1 week on treatment
    • Rash is not cleared by 4 weeks
    • Your child becomes worse

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


  1. Alston SJ, Cohen BA, Braun M. Persistent and recurrent tinea corporis in children treated with combination antifungal/corticosteroid agents. Pediatrics. 2003;111:201-203.
  2. American Academy of Pediatrics: Committee on Infectious Diseases. Ringworm. In Pickering L, ed. 2009 Red Book. 28th ed. Elk Grove Village, IL: 2009.
  3. Goldgeier MH. Fungal infections: Tips from a dermatologist. Contemp Pediatr. 1996;13 (9):21-50.
  4. Hay R. Fungal skin infection. Arch Dis Child. 1992; 67:1065-1067.
  5. Shy R. Tinea corporis and tinea capitis. Pediatr Rev. 2007;28 (5):164-174.
  6. Theos A. Diagnosis and management of superficial cutaneous fungal infections in children. Pediatr Ann. 2007;36 (1):47-54.
  7. Williams JV, Godfrey JC, Friedlander SF. Superficial fungal infections: confronting the fungus among us. Contemp Pediatr. 2003;20 (1):58-80.


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.

Author and Senior Reviewer: Barton D. Schmitt, M.D.

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