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Pediatric Basics


Updated May 21, 2014

Hand holding baby feet
Stephen Swain Photography/Photodisc/Getty Images
Ringworm is usually a mild fungal infection of the skin. Affected areas can include:
  • body - typical ringworm or tinea corporis
  • scalp - tinea capitis
  • feet - athlete's foot or tinea pedis
  • groin - jock itch or tinea cruris


The typical ringworm rash on the body looks like a red circular lesion with a scaly border and these areas may be itchy.

Tinea capitis can cause dandruff like scaling and/or hair loss.

Athlete's foot usually causes an itchy, patchy rash with fissuring and scaling between the toes.


Diagnosis is usually made based on the appearance of the typical ringworm rash. Cultures, especially scalp cultures for tinea capitis, can be done though.

Topical steroids are a usual first treatment most parents use, but this can change the appearance of ringworm, so be sure to mention to your Pediatrician if you have been applying any topical creams to your child's rash.


An over-the-counter antifungal cream or ointment is the usual treatment for ringworm, except for tinea capitis, which is much more difficult to treat and often requires several months of an oral medication (like Griseofulvin).

Prescription topical creams, suspensions and lotions are also available, like Loprox, Spectazole and Oxistat.

What You Need To Know

  • Ringworm is often a misdiagnosis for other conditions, especially numular eczema and pityriasis rosea.
  • Remember that athlete's foot is unusual in preteen children. These children often have Juvenile Plantar Dermatosis or a contact dermatitis when they have an itchy red rash on their feet.
  • Ringworm is only mildly contagious, so children undergoing treatment may continue to attend school or daycare. In addition to infected people, you can get ringworm from infected cats and dogs. So examine your pets if someone in your family develops ringworm.
  • Tinea capitis is difficult to treat and the fungi that causes it have become resistant to griseofulvin, so higher doses are now used. Be sure to take this medicine with a fatty meal or glass of milk to increase absorption. You might also use a shampoo with selenium sulfide so that he is less contagious.

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