What is Ringworm?
Ringworm is a contagious fungus infection that can affect the scalp, the body and the feet (athlete's foot), or the nails. Despite the name, it has NOTHING to do with worms. The name comes from the characteristic red ring that can appear on an infected person's skin. Ringworm is also called tinea.
How is Ringworm Spread?
People can get ringworm from 1) direct skin to skin contact with an infected person or pet, 2) indirect contact with an object or surface that an infected person or pet has touched, or 3) rarely, by contact with soil. Ringworm can be treated with a fungus-killing medicine, such as Lotrimin.
What are the Symptoms of Ringworm?
Ringworm of the scalp usually begins as a small pimple that becomes larger, leaving scaly patches of temporary baldness. Infected hairs become brittle and break off easily. Yellowish crusty areas sometimes develop. Scalp ringworm usually appears 10 to 14 days after contact.
Ringworm of the body shows up as a flat, round patch anywhere on the scalp except for the scalp and feet. As the rash expands, its center clears to produce a ring. More than one patch might appear, and the patches can overlap. This area is sometimes itchy. The time between exposure and symptoms is not known.
Ringworm of the foot is also called athlete's foot. It appears as a scaling and cracking of the skin, especially between the toes.
Ringworm of the nails causes the affected nails to become thicker, discolored, and brittle, or to become chalky and disintegrate.
How is Ringworm treated?
Ringworm can be treated with fungus-killing medicine. The medicine can be taken in tablet or liquid form by mouth or as a cream applied directly to the affected area. Lack of or inadequate treatment can result in an infection that will not clear. Please finish all medications as prescribed by your physician.
How Can Ringworm be prevented?
To prevent ringworm, 1) make sure all infected persons and pets get appropriate treatment, 2) avoid contact with infected persons and pets, 3) do not share personal items, and 4) keep common use areas clean.
How serious is Ringworm?
Although most infections can be treated at home, you should consult your primary care provider if symptoms do not improve after 2 weeks of treatment with over the counter anti-fungal medications.
Where can you get more information?
Your school Health Office, family doctor and the local health department are excellent sources for information on all communicable diseases.
Parents of students with a communicable disease are asked to telephone the school health office so that other students who have been exposed to the disease can be alerted. Students with diseases are not allowed to come to school while they are contagious.