How is ringworm spread and treated?

By Alan Greene, MD, FAAP


What is ringworm and how is it spread?


Many people think that a worm causes ringworm, but actually, it's a fungus similar to athlete's foot. It typically spreads when there's direct contact with someone who has it and the fungus gets into a break in the skin. It is only very mildly contagious. It can be caught from dogs and cats as well as from most farm animals or ranch animals. It can also be caught from anything the animal has rubbed against, for several hours afterward.

Susceptible people can catch ringworm by prolonged contact with flakes of shed skin from sharing clothes or from house dust mites. Usually it takes two full weeks of topical treatment to clear up an infection, even if it looks resolved sooner. A common reason for it to come back is when patients discontinue treatment when the skin begins to look normal again. It's very important to perform the full course of treatment. Tinactin is a fine choice of treatment. Often a little dab of Selsun Blue shampoo rubbed into the skin will do the trick. There are stronger prescription medicines available when needed.

A kid with eczema or another skin condition gets ringworm more easily and has a tougher time getting rid of it.

The information on this Web site is designed for educational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice or care. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses without consulting your pediatrician or family doctor. Please consult a doctor with any questions or concerns you might have regarding your or your child's condition.

Healthy Kid


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