Ringworm in Children & Babies: Symptoms, Causes and Treatments

Ringworm is remarkably common, easily treated and very mild (it also has nothing to do with worms. Go figure).

Ringworm in children and babies is really contagious, but there are a few simple steps you can take to help stop it spreading.

baby with ringworm

What is Ringworm in Children and Babies?

The type of ringworm your little one has will depend on where it is: it can appear on the body, nails, feet, groin or scalp. It looks like a silvery or red ring of skin and it might be itchy or inflamed too, although this isn't always the case

The rings tend to get larger as the fungus grows, and can range in size from a couple of millimetres to a few centimetres.

If your child has ringworm of the scalp, it can be pretty easy to mistake it for dandruff.


How Can Your Child Catch Ringworm?


Like a lot of infections, ringworm can easily passed from person to person.

The spores are tiny but tough, and can survive for months in combs, towels and hairbrushes, for example.

Swimming pool changing rooms are a particular culprit as ringworm thrives in warm, moist conditions.

Animals can also be carriers, so your child could catch it by petting an infected pooch.

How is Ringworm Treated in Babies and Children?


Most types of ringworm are mild enough to be treated using an over-the-counter anti-fungal cream.

You shouldn't need to see a doctor unless the pharmacist requests it or if the condition doesn't go away after about four weeks.

If the infection is on the scalp, you will need to see your GP, however, as your child will need to take anti-fungal tablets and these are prescription-only.

Also keep an eye out for broken or irritated skin, as that might need to be treated with antibiotics. 

How Do I Stop Ringworm Spreading?


As ringworm in babies is so contagious, it's really important that you take steps to stop the infection in its tracks.

This includes gently washing and drying the affected areas of your child's body, keeping their fingernails short to prevent spreading it through scratching and dressing them in loose-fitting cotton baby clothes that cover their arms and legs.

You should also thoroughly wash their towels, bedding and clothing.

Here's a breakdown of the do's and don'ts to help stop ringworm from spreading:


  • Start treatment as soon as possible
  • Gently wash and dry your child's affected areas
  • Keep their fingernails short
  • Wash towels, bedding and clothing reguarly
  • DO NOT:

  • Share towels, bedding and clothing
  • Scratch the ringworm rash

  • Can My Child Go to School With Ringworm?


    Yes, if your child has started treatment for ringworm, they're still okay to go to school or nursery, but you should let their teacher know.

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