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Getting rid of ringworm

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An itchy, ring-shaped rash could mean your child has ringworm. However, despite the name, it’s not actually a worm at all.

Ringworm belongs to a group of fungi that can cause rashes in many different parts of the body including the feet, in the form of athlete’s foot, in the groin area as jock itch, and even the scalp.

Fungal infections are very common, especially in children, and can easily spread from one child to another by direct contact. They can also be transferred indirectly through unwashed clothing or wet floors, like in showers or swimming pool changing rooms. Ringworm can also be caught from pets that carry the fungus.

Identifying ringworm

You may notice itchy, red, raised, scaly patches of skin that might blister and crust. The patches tend to have a sharply-defined edge which look like a ring, while the centre of the rash is often paler in colour.

On feet you may notice:

  • Cracking or peeling skin
  • Blisters
  • White or soggy-looking skin, especially between toes or on the soles of the feet

Children may complain of itching, stinging and burning between their toes or on the soles of their feet.

How to treat ringworm

Anti-fungal products can treat ringworm and are available at Unichem Pharmacies in powder, lotion, cream or gel form.

Speak to your Unichem Pharmacist about the best product for your child, depending on where the infection is.

Most preparations available for children under 12 years need to used twice a day, continuing for one to two weeks after the infection has cleared.

Preventing ringworm

Fungal infections like ringworm thrive in warm, moist areas so minimising these conditions can help prevent infection.

  • Keep your child’s skin and feet clean and dry
  • Make sure they use clean socks each day
  • Keep cool in hot, humid weather by wearing light, well ventilated clothing and footwear
  • Remind your child not to share personal items
  • Make sure they wear jandals at public showers and pools

Ringworm infections are more likely in families with pets. If you notice any patches of hair loss on your pet, it could be a fungal infection. Seek treatment from a vet and avoid hugging the infected animal until the treatment has finished.

When to see a doctor

Seek medical attention if your child shows any signs of a bacterial infection, which can result from scratching. Signs include:

  • Swelling
  • Warm skin
  • Sudden worsening in redness of the patches
  • Red streaking
  • Pus
  • Oozing
  • Fever

If the skin does not improve after four weeks or if the rash spreads during treatment, you should also see your doctor. For more advice and help choosing a ringworm treatment, talk with your Unichem Pharmacist.

Kathy – Pharmacist, Unichem Hillpark, Manurewa