You notice a funny rash on your little one’s skin and immediately suspect a case of ringworm. It seems scary to imagine ringworm in babies. It’s natural to be worried, but luckily, the condition is very treatable and in most cases does not result in any complications.
In this article, learn everything you need to know about ringworm, including what it is, how to be sure your baby has it, how to treat it and what you can do to make sure your baby never gets it again.
What is Ringworm?
The name ringworm is misleading. While you may imagine worms burrowing into your precious baby’s skin, there are no worms involved in ringworm. It’s a fungal skin infection also known as tinea. Don’t worry! It’s usually harmless and easy to treat.
The fungal infection also goes by other familiar names. Have you heard of athlete’s foot? This is the version of ringworm that appears on the feet. Jock itch is ringworm that presents in the groin area. Ringworm can occur anywhere on the body’s skin, including the scalp. Usually, you’ll notice the infection when a rash appears.
What Are the Symptoms of Ringworm?
The primary symptom of ringworm is an itchy rash. The rash is easy to see because it’s usually round with clear skin in the middle. Other times, the rash can be red on the inside of the circle. However, you’ll often notice a distinct circular shape or ring.
In addition to the itchy rash, ringworm will also cause scaly patches of skin or blisters. When ringworm occurs on the scalp, hair loss is also typical. Ringworm can also affect fingernails and toenails. When this happens, nails often turn yellow or white and also thicken.
What Does Ringworm Look Like On Babies?
Ringworm in babies appears the same way as it does on adults. Keep in mind that the rash may not always start out being perfectly round. As it grows, it will appear rounder.
Since babies are commonly affected by a range of skin conditions including cradle cap, baby acne, and even eczema, it can be hard to determine what exactly is causing the problem.
Here’s a helpful guide for telling the difference between ringworm and eczema in babies:
- Will typically clear up within a few weeks of treatment
- Often causes hair loss in the area affected by the rash
- Usually crops up in sweaty regions such as the folds of your baby’s skin
- The rash is raised, red and often circular
- Can take months to clear up even with treatment
- Characterized by dry skin that’s usually red, but can also appear yellowish, pale pink or white
- Is very itchy and uncomfortable
- The skin may burn or sting, which may cause your baby to cry more
If you’re having a hard time determining what the cause of your baby’s rash or skin abnormality is, contact your doctor. Your doctor may perform a test on your baby’s skin to ensure correct diagnosis of ringworm.
How Do Babies Get Ringworm?
Where on earth did your baby contract ringworm? And how common is ringworm in babies? If you suspect that your child has ringworm, your mind is naturally racing with questions about how this has happened. Ringworm is actually a common fungal infection, so it’s not particularly unusual to find in the environment.
There are many ways to contract ringworm because the fungus is quite contagious. If you’re wondering, “is ringworm in babies contagious?” the answer is yes! All ringworm, whether in babies, adults, children or animals is highly contagious which explains why it’s so so easy to contract. Some of the most common ways to contract ringworm include:
- Infected individuals. Perhaps another child or adult had ringworm and touched your baby, spreading the fungus.
- Infected objects. The fungus can live for a short time on objects such as towels, clothing, combs, brushes that have been touched by infected individuals or animals.
- Infected animals. Pets, especially cats, but also dogs, and domesticated farm animals can carry ringworm. If your baby pets the cat or dog, this may be where he got ringworm.
- Dirt. While not common, ringworm can also be spread by touching the infected soil. However, this is very uncommon and your baby would probably have had to play in the dirt for a long time to get ringworm this way.
As you can see, there are many ways that your baby can get ringworm. With so many possible ways to contract the fungus, it’s nearly impossible to pinpoint a source. Perhaps you pet a dog and then picked up your baby without washing your hands. Or maybe a stranger gave your baby a high five, passing on the fungus. The good news is that no matter how your baby got it, it’s usually quite simple to get rid of ringworm.
How to Treat Ringworm in Babies
The conventional approach to treating ringworm is usually a topical antifungal cream prescribed by your doctor. The doctor will most likely start with an over the counter option, but may opt for a prescription strength formula if your child has a severe case. While there aren’t specific ringworm creams for babies, you can look for a clotrimazole or miconazole product containing 1 or 2 percent of the active ingredient. Avoid varieties that may be too strong for your baby. In especially difficult cases, the doctor may also prescribe oral antifungal medicines.
If you’d rather avoid a trip to the doctor or using the conventional creams, there are some natural treatments you can try:
Coconut Oil – This natural oil has susceptible antifungal and antimicrobial properties. In a study, coconut oil performed on par with commercial antifungal formulas such as fluconazole, which is similar to clotrimazole and miconazole. Try applying natural virgin coconut oil to your baby’s affected skin 3 times a day. It may very well clear up the infection.
Oregano Oil – Oregano oil is another oil with antifungal properties you can apply to your baby’s skin. It’s recommended that you dilute the essential oil in a carrier oil because oregano oil is powerful and can even burn your baby’s skin. Use just a drop or two of the essential oil in a bit of coconut oil for the best result. Always remember to use care when exposing your baby to essential oils, as baby’s skin is very sensitive.
Tea Tree Oil- This oil is also effective against fungus. Just as with the oregano oil, extreme caution should be used due to the strength of the oil. Use just a few drops in a bit of coconut oil and then apply it to your baby’s skin.
How to Prevent Ringworm in Babies
It’s not always possible to protect your baby from ringworm, but there are some things you can do to help make it less likely that your baby will get ringworm. Here are our top tips for preventing ringworm:
- Check your beloved family pets for ringworm on a regular basis. You’ll notice hairless patches if your pet has ringworm. A routine checkup for your pet is always recommended so that your pet doesn’t pass on illnesses and infections to your family.
- Always wash hands after touching your pet.
- Make sure your baby uses their own items like towels, combs, pillows, and clothing. Avoid sharing among family members.
- Get treatment for affected family members as quickly as possible so that ringworm won’t be spread to your baby.
- Have your walking baby use shoes or sandals in public spaces such as a locker room or pool bathroom and changing room.
- Don’t dress your baby too warmly. The more your baby sweats, the more likely the fungus is to thrive in the moist, warm environment.
- Keep shared places like the bathroom clean. Disinfect regularly.
- Follow best practices for caring for your baby’s skin to avoid further aggravation.
While ringworm in babies may seem a bit scary, the treatment is simple and can usually be resolved quickly.
Have you dealt with ringworm before? Tell us about your experience in the comments.