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Pediatric - Ringworm


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Ringworm Rash on Arm
Ringworm Rash on Arm

Ringworm Rash on Leg
Ringworm Rash on Leg

  • Fungal skin infection causing 1 or more ring-shaped spots


  • Round pink patch
  • Clearing of the center as the patch grows
  • Raised, rough, scaly border
  • Usually ½ to 1 inch (12 -25 mm) in size
  • Ring slowly increases in size
  • Mildly itchy


  • A fungus infection of the skin often transmitted from puppies or kittens who have it.
  • Less commonly transmitted human-to-human because if requires direct contact.  An exception is that an epidemic from ringworm can occur among wrestlers because of close body contact during matches.
  • Occasionally transmitted from fungus in the soil.

Return to School

  • Your child doesn't have to miss any day care or school for ringworm.

If not, see these topics

When to Call Your Doctor

Call Your Doctor Within 24 Hours (between 9 am and 4 pm) If
  • Pus is draining from the rash
Call Your Doctor During Weekday Office Hours If
  • You think your child needs to be seen
  • Scalp is involved
  • More than 3 spots are present
  • Teen is a wrestler
  • Rash continues to spread after 1 week on treatment
  • Rash lasts longer than 4 weeks
  • You have other questions or concerns
Parent Care at Home If
  • Mild ringworm and you don't think your child needs to be seen

  1. Antifungal Cream:
    • Use Lamisil, Micatin or Lotrimin cream (no prescription needed) 2 times per day.
    • Apply it to the rash and 1 inch beyond its borders.
    • Continue the cream for at least 7 days after the rash is cleared.
  2. Contagiousness:
    • Your child doesn't have to miss any day care or school for ringworm.
    • Ringworm of the skin is mildly contagious. It requires direct skin-to-skin contact.
    • The type acquired from pets is not transmitted from human to human, only from animal to human.
    • After 48 hours of treatment, ringworm is not contagious at all.
    • Wrestlers, however, should avoid all wrestling until evaluated by your child's doctor.
  3. Expected Course: It clears completely in 3 to 4 weeks. For any recurrences, suspect the household puppy or kitten and take it to the vet for diagnosis and treatment.
  4. Call Your Doctor If:
    • Rash continues to spread after 1 week on treatment
    • Rash is not cleared by 4 weeks
    • Your child becomes worse

And remember, contact your doctor if your child develops any of the "Call Your Doctor" symptoms.

Disclaimer: This information is not intended be a substitute for professional medical advice. It is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information.

Author and Senior Reviewer: Barton D. Schmitt, M.D.

Last Reviewed: 1/19/2009

Last Revised: 10/1/2006

Content Set: Pediatric HouseCalls Online

Copyright 1994-2009 Barton D. Schmitt, M.D.

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