Despite the common term “ringworm,” this skin infection is actually caused by a fungus, not a worm. In its more recognized form, it causes a circular rash measuring 1/2 to 1 inch that eventually has a smooth middle with a red rough circular edge according to the American Academy of Pediatrics’ book “Caring for Your Baby and Young Child.” Anyone can get ringworm, and it is a common infection and easily transmitted from one person to another. Without quick treatment, you or your child can develop multiple patches of ringworm and require several weeks of topical and oral medication.
Treat the first stages of the infection with an over-the-counter antifungal medication that contains tolnaftate, miconazole or clotrimazole. In the early stages of ringworm, the rash will consist of several small scaly patches that eventually develop into the telltale ring. Use the cream per the label’s instructions, as skipping treatments will make the infection last longer. Typically, treatment involves applying the cream directly to the rash two to three times a day for a week.
Ask your doctor for a medicated shampoo if the infection is on the scalp. You may see the rash or have patches of hair loss at the site of the rash.
Take your cat and/or dog to the veterinarian to determine if your pet has ringworm as well. The pets may be the cause of the ringworm infection and will need treatment, otherwise you will be re-infected.
Wash with soap and water any combs, brushes or hair clips if the infection is on the scalp. Hats can also harbor the fungus and need cleaning or to be disposed of.