Ringworm Treatment for Kids


Ringworm or “tinea corporis” is caused by a fungal organism, not by a worm, as the name might suggest. Early studies point to the fact that the majority of ringworm cases in infants and children are attributed to either the Trichophyton rubrum [1] or Microsporum species [2] with additional types of tinea infections stemming from Epidermophyton species. In addition to ringworm on the body, tinea infections in the hair and scalp (“tinea capitis”), fingernails and toe nails (“tinea unguium”), and feet (“tinea pedis”) are among the most common skin infections in children [3]. For additional information on ringworm in general, see Tinea Corporis (Ringworm) Background.


How Do I know If My Child Has Ringworm?

A ringworm infection is usually easy to identify. The infection normally occurs in a red circular form with a general clearing towards the middle. The edges of the ringworm infection are also usually very sharp and defined. Sizes of the patches can vary from a few centimeters to a few inches in diameter, and they can appear anywhere on the body. Itchiness and irritation are common symptoms, and the infection may frequently appear on numerous areas throughout a period of time. Consult with your doctor if you are unsure about the infection.

Ringworm On the Arm (Trichophyton mentagrophytes)


Where Did My Child Get Ringworm?

Ringworm is a highly contagious infection and can spread by skin-to-skin contact or by contact with other objects (e.g. lotions, cosmetics, shared surfaces, etc). The infection typically spreads between humans by skin contact, but it may also be obtained from household pets that carry the fungal organisms. For kids with ringworm, consider refraining from social settings and environments where contact with other children is possible to avoid the spread of infection.

Also, the fungi that cause ringworm in children and in humans are organisms that normally reside on the skin’s surface in general, therefore, some infections may be caused solely by an outbreak of the particular fungi species without any contact with an infected child. It is currently unknown why these outbreaks may occur but certain aspects correlate with more regular infection including – oily skin and wet and humid environments. Practicing good hygiene may help to prevent recurrence.


Treatment Options

Standard topical treatment is usually able to address the ringworm infection in kids and adolescents. However, since the infection can be caused by a variety of fungal organisms, a single ringworm treatment will not work for all cases. Typical ingredients that have shown higher efficacy in children include terbinafine, itraconazole, and fluconazole [3]. For a comprehensive overview of these active ingredients, see Tinea (Ringworm) Treatments. Standard ringworm treatment for children usually entails application of the cream or lotion twice daily for a period of several weeks. Continued application for 1-2 weeks may be recommended even after the infection disappears to prevent any reoccurrence.

For general infections, diagnosis can usually be made by visual inspection. In some cases, a doctor may order a skin scraping to investigate further and to determine the best treatment option based on the species of fungi.




[1] Fernandes NC, Akiti T, Barreiros MG. Dermatophytoses in children: study of 137 cases. Rev Inst Med Trop Sao Paulo. 2001 Mar-Apr;43(2):83-5. Link.

[2] Vena GA, Chieco P, Palmiotti G, Bosco A, Garofalo A, Bonamonte D, Cassano N. Dermatomycoses in children and adolescents: a retrospective study over a 5-year period. Clinical Dermatology. 2013 1(3): 130-133. Link.

[3] Andrews MD and Burns M. Common Tinea Infections in Children. American Academy of Family Physicians. Wake Forest University School of Medicine. 2008 Vol. 77:10. Link.

Top article image courtesy of Flickr user john-spade and was slightly cropped. License.