Ringworms in children and babies
Ringworms are a class of infectious diseases caused by fungi. Despite their name they are not related to worms or parasites of any kind. These pathogens can affect people of any age, but are more common in children older that two years (also possible in younger babies but quite rarely). These common infections are not dangerous by nature.
The child or baby can get infected with ringworms by having contacts with an infected person, animal (pets like dogs or cats), by picking it up from floors, soil or by coming into contact with an object which contains pathogens (towels, combs, different pieces of clothing).
Ringworm infection in children are usually quite specific. Usually they present as a scaly patch which can be found almost anywhere on the body (scalp, face, body, hands, legs). The patch grows with time and it’s usually round in shape, red coloured with a smooth, sometimes clear centre. The border is composed of scales, small blisters and bumps. If the lesion is located on the head, there might be scaly areas with missing or broken – off hair. This condition can be mistaken for another one called cradle cap (greasy, scaly patches that sometimes appears on the head of a baby) or for other, rash causing diseases (like psoriasis, eczema, seborrhoea or contact dermatitis). Sometimes the lesion on the skin is one and sometimes there are multiple.
If the child’s organism responds to the ringworm infection with a vivid immune response, a condition called kerion might follow. It is characterised by a swollen, moist area of inflammation with pus filled bumps (called pustules).
Diagnosing ringworm in babies
when the doctor inspects the child for possible ringworm infection he might be able to diagnose it just by looking at the lesion. If the diagnosis is not as straightforward, he might use a special lamp called Wood’s lamp or perform a small scraping of the diseased skin which will get examined under a microscope.
Treatment of ringworms in babies
when a ringworm is suspected in a child, an appointment with the doctor is to be scheduled. The prescribed treatment depends on the site, where the inflammation is taking place. If the lesions are located on the body of the baby, topical anti fungal creams will usually be enough (for example clotrimasole cream used twice daily). In most of the cases, in a couple of weeks the infection should go away (about three to four). After there are no more visible signs of the disease, the cream should be used for another seven days to prevent possible relapses. Some children might be sensitive or even allergic to prescribed creams. In that case, the paediatrician has to be consulted. In most of the cases, topical medications will suffice, only sometimes oral anti fungals will be recommended (when the infection is located on the scalp of the baby).
How to prevent ringworm in babies – Precautions
- Sometimes the changes on the child’s skin can be itchy. When scratched, dirt and bacteria can get in the already damaged skin and cause a bacterial infection. It is therefore very important to keep the child s nails short and clean.
- The clothes and the bedding have to be thoroughly washed to prevent a reinfection.
- If the child is in daycare or school, consult with his teacher and/or doctor on whenever you should keep him at home to prevent from spreading the disease to others.
- After applying anti fungal creams, the parent have to wash their hands with soap and hot water
- Pets should be taken to the vet for a check – up (they can show symptoms or not)
- If the baby has Tinea capitis (ringworm located on the scalp), all the household members are advised to use anti fungal shampoos for an appropriate amount of time
- Children should use appropriate footwear when walking around pool areas and avoid sharing personal care objects like combs, towels etc.
- The affected child should wear light, cotton made garments which breathe in order to stay dry.
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