Ringworm is a fungal skin infection that is NOT caused by worms. Ringworm in newborns is often seen on the head. In this case, the ringworm is called ‘tinea capitis’. In older babies, ringworm is often found on the body and is called ‘tinea corporis’. This condition usually occurs in babies older than 2, but it can also occur in adults and younger babies. There are lots of remedies to treat and prevent ringworm in babies.
Symptoms of Ringworm in Babies
The infection caused by ringworm is usually a round patch about the size of a nickel or quarter. The center is smooth and the ring around it is rough and usually dry and flaky. Although these rings can appear on the baby’s body, when ringworm is on the baby’s head it usually appears as bald, scaly areas rather than the typical rings. These patches usually stop growing when they are about half an inch across. Often confused with cradle cap, your healthcare provider should be able to tell you if your baby’s condition is ringworm or some other sort of infection. When ringworm is the moist type, you may notice small bumps that resemble pimples.
If left untreated, and particularly if your baby scratches the ringworm areas, he might develop a secondary bacterial infection. Be sure to keep the baby’s fingernails short and clean – and you may have to resort to putting socks on his hands while he sleeps so he does not scratch the rash.
Causes of Ringworm in Babies
People and pets can both be infected with the fungus that causes ringworm. If your baby has contact with an infected person or animal, she may catch the fungus. The fungus lives in moist areas, so towels, clothing, hats, and hairbrushes may harbor the fungus. He may also pick up the fungus by walking barefoot around pool area or an infected pool room. There is some research that supports the idea that some babies may have a genetic predisposition to ringworm.
How to Treat Ringworm in Babies
1. OTC Cream or Medication
Depending on the age of your baby, your healthcare provider may prescribe an over-the-counter anti-fungal cream to treat the ringworm. Use the cream twice a day by treating each patch of ringworm with a small amount of cream. If the rash worsens or other symptoms develop, discontinue the cream immediately and contact the baby’s pediatrician. In rare cases of stubborn ringworm, something stronger than OTC cream, such as oral medication may be prescribed by the doctor.
2. Keeping Clean and Dry
Be sure to keep the baby’s skin clean and dry – and be sure to wash your hands well after treating your baby’s ringworm. Keep all towels, sheets and clothing separate from the rest of the family’s and wash them frequently until the fungus is under control. As much as possible, keep the baby’s extremities covered to prevent her from scratching the areas of ringworm. Most cases of ringworm should clear within a month with appropriate treatment.
How to Prevent Ringworm in Babies
1. Maintain Personal Hygiene
Since ringworm is caused by a common fungus, it is very hard to prevent your baby from getting the condition. Be sure your entire family and anyone in contact with the baby understands that anyone can be infected by this fungus. It is important that everyone use proper hand hygiene.
One of the easiest ways to spread the ringworm fungus is by scratching an infected patch and then transferring the fungus to another person through dirty fingernails. Ringworm is not easy to prevent in babies, but attention to hygiene will help prevent the spread of this fungal disease.
2. Check It Early
It is also important that you check yourself and your other children to make sure if you catch ringworm early since it will be easier to treat if caught in the early stages. If your pet has patches that may be ringworm, take him to the vet so the animal can be treated.
3. Avoid Spreading the Fungus
It is important that each member of the family has a separate towel, washcloth, and hairbrush. While this is a good general recommendation, it is especially important when your baby has ringworm. Particularly when infected with this fungus, it is important to wash clothes and bedding in hot water.
4. Use Antifungal Shampoo
If the baby has ringworm on his head, the entire family should use an antifungal shampoo twice each week until the infection is gone. The entire family should be sure to keep fingernails very clean and cut short.