Sydney is a contributing health writer and editor who enjoys shedding light on health topics, making information available to anyone who wants it, and ending stigmas or lack of access to care and treatment.
Leann Poston, M.D.
Leann Poston, M.D. earned her medical degree from the Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine. She completed an MBA from Raj Soin College of Business, focusing on healthcare. She is a full-time medical communication writer and educator.
April 19, 2021
Noticing any kind of rash on your baby can be a cause for panic. Luckily, ringworm isn’t as big of a deal as it might look. With proper identification and treatment, ringworm on babies can quickly go away without causing any further health issues or complications.
EverydayDr is partnered with PlushCare, a telehealth company that connects patients with online doctors. PlushCare was just named one of the top startups of 2021 by Forbes, and doctors have an average of 15 years of experience. For immediate access to expert medical care online, make a same-day appointment with PlushCare here.
Despite the name, ringworm is not a worm, or even caused by a worm. Whether it’s in babies, kids, or adults, ringworm is a very common contagious skin infection caused by a fungus called tinea.
Ringworm is pretty contagious and can be transmitted through:
Given how it’s spread, ringworm in babies and children is especially common. Close play, clothing swaps, and shared blankets and sheets at sleepovers are inevitable even for the children of vigilant parents.
Ringworm pretty much looks the same on kids and babies as it does on adults. The problem is that kids and babies probably won’t be able to communicate health issues like an adult would. Knowing the signs of ringworm is the first step to correctly identifying the cause of the rash. Signs of ringworm in babies include:
A common area for babies to get ringworm is on their faces and heads, so keep an eye out for rashes in those areas, because it might be a sign that the rash is caused by ringworm. According to the CDC, “Ringworm on the scalp usually looks like a scaly, itchy, red, circular bald spot. The bald spot can grow in size and multiple spots might develop if the infection spreads. Ringworm on the scalp is more common in children than it is in adults.”
The best way to deal with a ringworm infection is to avoid it in the first place. Some ways you can help prevent ringworm in children are:
While prevention is the first line of defense against ringworm, even extremely attentive parents end up dealing with ringworm in babies and children.
Ringworm treatment for kids and babies include:
Some examples of efficient over-the-counter creams for ringworm include:
Usually, you’ll need to keep the area clean and apply the ointments to your child’s rash 2 or 3 times a day for a few days or a week. Specific instructions will be on the package, just make sure to follow those, consult with your doctor, and your baby will probably be rash-free in no time!
Really the only difference about ringworm in babies is that it typically shows up on their face or head because that’s what is mostly exposed to foreign factors, such as a ungus. Most babies aren’t going to get athletes’ foot or jock itch!
Because babies can’t communicate their health concerns to us, it’s important to pay attention to things like rashes and get them checked out if necessary. If your baby’s rash looks like the rash described above, just keep it clean and buy some antifungal treatments. Speak to a doctor if you’re really worried it’s something else, it is not improving within a few days, the ringworm patches are widespread, they appear to be infected, or your child has other symptoms such as a fever. Ringworm of the scalp or involving the nails needs oral prescription medication to be effectively treated.
If you leave your infant’s ringworm unattended for a long time, it can get extremely uncomfortable for him or her. If the skin stays irritated and begins cracking or breaking, this can lead to secondary bacterial infections that will require antibiotics. Not only will this be a more complicated healing process, but it will be incredibly uncomfortable and irritating for your baby.
If your toddler has ringworm, or even an older kid, you might want to start talking about healthy practices with them. While babies can’t really control what viruses, bacteria, or fungi they contract, kids can start making healthy choices themselves.
Again, preventative methods you can communicate with your kid include:
While ringworm in kids is generally a minor issue, you may want to take them to a doctor if you’re unsure whether their rash is ringworm or not, if it is widespread, not improving, or appears to be infected, or if you believe they need prescription-strength antifungal treatments. Ringworm of the scalp or involving the nails needs oral prescription medication to be effectively treated.
For accessible, affordable appointments, you can go through our partner PlushCare. They offer online appointments you can take from home, and they’ll be able to identify ringworm on your toddler, suggest treatments, and prescribe medication just like any pediatrician you’d see in person.
Chances are, if you’re juggling kids with everyday life responsibilities, and then ringworm gets thrown into the mix, you don’t have a ton of time on your hands to deal with it.
Access to online doctors greatly decreases the time you’ll have to spend dealing with this pesky skin condition in your child. No need to wait for an appointment, commute to a doctor’s office, or pay a lot of money to get a physician’s opinion on your kid’s case of ringworm. You can usually get same-day appointments on PlushCare, there’s no waiting room like at a walk-in clinic, and you can do all of this from your computer or phone. Make your affordable, convenient appointment online with PlushCare.
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