Ringworm is not a worm. It’s a fungal (yeast) infection and presents as a rash that gradually spreads. The round rash with a raised, dry edge can be confused with some forms of eczema. Ringworm is also the same fungus known as athlete’s foot and jock itch. Typically, it begins to take on a ring-like appearance, but sometimes it just remains a dry, flaky rash that can be itchy. When ringworm presents on the scalp, there is usually a bald patch.

“Early on, parents don’t recognize ringworm as a significant rash. It’s common for kids to have it (and pass it on) for weeks before it gets medical attention,” says Dr. Laura Gerber, a Burlington, Ontario, paediatrician. “Kids aren’t usually too bothered by it, unless it happens to be really itchy.”

Ringworm responds really well to topical antifungal treatments. “Usually within a week it will be well under control,” says Gerber. “Most kids will require a few weeks of daily antifungal cream to make sure it’s really gone.” Antifungals include medicines such as Canesten, Monistat and Lamisil.

Gerber reminds parents that, “if a family member has ringworm, it may well spread through the household. It can live on linens and towels, so they shouldn’t share. Prevent direct contact with the lesions, and after cream is applied hands should be washed well.”

If you suspect ringworm, see your doctor immediately for the appropriate treatment.

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