Ringworm is also known as tinea corporis. Surprisingly it has absolutely nothing to do with worms at all, despite its name. It is a common fungal infection which often affects children but can affect adults too and it is thought that 10-20% of people will suffer from ringworm at some stage in their lives! It is a highly contagious infection which can be passed from human to human and even from dog or cat to human. It usually affects the arms or legs but can occur almost anywhere.
What does it look like?
- Affects arms and legs most frequently
- Round, red or silvery patches of skin which can be scaly
- The skin can be itchy and inflamed.
How do I prevent it?
- If someone in the family is infected avoid sharing towels, bedding and clothes.
- It can occur after playing in infected soil in the garden or park and so can be hard to prevent – but keep an eye out for symptoms in your dogs or cats if they like to roll around or sniff in soil at the park or in the garden. If your pet is infected then take a trip to the vet to get them treated.
- Have all family members practice good personal hygiene – encourage a lot of hand washing etc.
- Examine your child’s skin frequently if someone in the household is affected to quickly identify an infection.
- Children can go to school if they themselves, or a family member, have ringworm but should inform their teacher so that they can help to minimise the spread of the infection.
- Dress your child in loose-fitting cotton clothing which covers their arms and legs when possible.
- Try to prevent your child from itching and scratching the affected areas.
- Keep the child’s toys separate from their other siblings or friends as the fungal spores can live on surfaces.
- It can be spread through direct skin to skin contact or through the sharing of towels, hair brushes and bedding etc.
How to treat ringworm:
The treatment of ringworm is straightforward and involves the use of antifungal cream such as Daktarin or Canesten 1%. Both of these creams are available without prescription from your local pharmacy. They are suitable for use in children so just ask your pharmacist for help when selecting a product. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding you will need to see your GP for treatment.
The creams should be applied twice daily and should be used for one to two weeks after the rash disappears – have a read of the packaging before you use the product. It’s really important to keep using them after the rash has disappeared to ensure the infection is fully gone. Occasionally these creams can cause irritation of the skin so stop using them if you feel they are making you or your child uncomfortable and discuss it with your pharmacist. If the infection is not improving after four weeks of treatment then see your GP. Wash your hands after applying the cream to prevent the spread of infection.
When do I need to see the GP?
- If suffering from an infection when pregnant or breastfeeding
- If infection of the scalp is suspected – look out for sore scalp with patchy hair loss and itch.
- If the condition persists beyond four weeks despite treatment as per the product recommendations.
- If the skin becomes very irritated or broken as it can lead to a secondary bacterial infection which may require antibiotics.
I hope you have found this article helpful and if you have any questions at all please don’t hesitate to contact me by sending a private message to the WonderBaba facebook page (www.facebook.com/wonderbabacare) or by calling me (Sheena) at Milltown totalhealth Pharmacy in Dublin 6 on 012600262. I’m always happy to help