What is it?
Ringworm, medically known as tinea, is a contagious skin infection caused by several different fungus organisms and can affect various parts of the body.
The fungus that causes scalp and foot ringworm only lives in humans. The fungus that causes ringworm of the body can also be found in animals and soil, but this is rare.
Despite the name, ringworm has nothing to do with worms!
What are the symptoms?
The appearance of ringworm is a round, red or silver patch on the skin, that may be scaly and itchy. As the infection progresses, the ring can spread outwards on the skin and there maybe one or several patches.
Ringworm can infect the scalp, body, feet, groin or nails. Each area of the body has slightly different symptoms but the main thing to look out for is the ring-like red rash.
In more severe cases, the ring-like rash may become raised and blistered.
How common is ringworm?
Ringworm is very common, especially in young children and schoolchildren, because it’s spread by both direct and indirect contact.
Do you need to take your child to the doctor?
Yes. This is so that your doctor can diagnose what type of ringworm your child has.
Once diagnosed, ringworm is easily treated with antifungal creams, tablets and shampoo, which usually take between a week and a month to clear up the infection. This, of course, depends on its severity.
If your child’s symptoms are severe, they may need further testing, but your doctor will explain this to you at the time.
Should your child go to school?
Yes. It’s not necessary to keep your child away from school when they have ringworm.
However, because the infection is contagious, you should let your child’s school know, so they can make sure your child washes their hands regularly and doesn’t scratch the affected areas.
To prevent the infection from spreading, don’t share hairbrushes and regularly wash clothing and bed linen at a high temperature.
What else may your child come in contact with during school?
Other infections such as tonsillitis, verrucas, chickenpox, impetigo, molluscum contagiosum, threadworms, ear infections, diarrhoea and vomiting are also common for your schoolchild to catch.