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Ringworm In Babies– Causes, Symptoms And Treatment

5 min read

It is scary to see your little one suffer from any disease, be it a small scar, blemish, or any infection on the skin. Babies are more prone to infections due to low immunity levels. As a mother, it is better to be more informed about the common diseases that affect babies to recognize the signs and provide treatment on time. Although most of these infections are not hazardous, they can make your baby very uncomfortable. Continue reading to know more about a common fungal infection that affects the babies- Ringworm.

What Is Ringworm In Babies?

Don’t be intimidated by the name. Ringworm infection has absolutely nothing to do with worms. It is a fungal infection. The fungus, also known as tinea, appears as a rash in a ring or round shape. It seems as raised bumpy, scaly, or crusty borders with a bright and soft center and thus gets its name – ringworm. It affects not only the skin but also the nails and scalp. Depending on the area, it appears, ringworm infection is differentiated as tinea capitis (head), tinea corporis (body), tinea pedis (feet) tinea unguium (finger and toenail).
Ringworm infection tends to be very itchy and uncomfortable. Though a highly contagious infection, it is easy to treat.

What Causes Ringworm Infection In Babies?

Ringworm is caused by a fungus called dermatophytes. This fungus is found on the dead tissues of skin, hair, and nails of both humans and animals.
Ringworm infection is highly contagious and spread through contact. The fungus usually gets into the body of the baby through broken skin like a small cut, scratch, or even an eczema patch. Babies can get ringworm in several ways. Some of the common causes are:

  • Skin to Skin Contact: Your baby may get ringworm infection if he comes in contact with an infected person. Skin to skin contact or if the infected person touches the baby after scratching the rash results in the occurrence of ringworm in babies
  • Pets: As this fungus is present in the skin, hair, and nails of the animals, babies often get infected from the pets like puppies and kittens
  • Shared Things: Contact with objects that are contaminated with this fungus is another way through which the babies can get ringworm infection. Using the same towel, crawling on the surface contaminated by the infected person, using the same hairbrush, etc. increases the chances of the baby getting this fungal infection. Swimming pools are another place where the baby could get ringworm infection
  • Parks/gardens: The fungi thrive in the soil. Therefore, crawling around the ground of the park or garden increases the chances of the ringworm infection in babies
  • Other factors: Warm and humid climate, malnourishment, babies with very low immunity, genetic makeup or babies who sweat a lot are at an increased risk of getting ringworm

What Are The Symptoms Of Ringworm In Babies?

The primary indication of ringworm is red, flaky, and itchy patches. It starts to grow and eventually appears as a ring when it can be as big as half an inch in diameter. The symptoms vary with the area where the ringworm appears.

  • Scalp: The ringworm appears in the scalp after 12 to 14 days of exposure to the fungi. Sharing hat, hairbrush, bed sheet, or towels with the infected person are some of the common reasons for the baby to get ringworm on the scalp. First, it appears as a pimple. Slowly it turns into a round shape, and the hair in that area gets brittle and will start falling, leading to bald spots. Sometimes ringworm in the scalp is mistaken for cradle cap. What you have to keep in mind is that the cradle cap appears only in infancy. Dry crusty scalp with bald patches that appears after the baby turns one-year-old more often can be a sign of ringworm
  • Skin: It can appear on any part of the body of the baby. It appears after ten days of exposure to the fungi. Crawling on the infected surface, pets, and skin contact with an infected person are the main reasons for this infection. It also spreads when the baby scratches the infected area and touches other parts of the body with the same hand. It also appears in moist skin folds. The red patches that appear on skin eventually are round or ring-shaped. There can be one or more patches depending on the intensity of infection
  • Feet: The ringworm infection that occurs on the feet are called athlete’s foot. The main symptom is the skin between the toes become dry and cracked
  • Fingernails: The fingernail, if you get infected with this fungus, becomes discolored, chalky, thick, and brittle. It will eventually get disintegrated. If the skin near the nail is cracked, the fungus gets in when the baby touches the pets, plays in soil, or scratches the already infected area

How Is Ringworm Diagnosed?

In order to diagnose ringworm, your baby’s doctor will do a physical examination. If required, he may look at the irritated area under light or slightly scrape the skin and look it under the microscope. In some cases, in order to confirm his diagnosis, the doctor may order a lab test of the flakes. He will start the necessary treatment on your baby once he confirms it is ringworm.

ringworm in babies

How To Treat Ringworm In Babies?

When the baby is diagnosed with ringworm, your doctor may recommend an antifungal medication. The ringworm usually gets better within a couple of weeks after the treatment

  • A topical antifungal ointment or cream is effective in treating ringworm on the body, but ringworm on the scalp or nails may require oral antifungal medication
  • The child’s scalp should be washed with special shampoo if the ringworm appears on the scalp
  • It is advisable not to go for home remedies to treat ringworm in babies. This is because there is a high chance of misjudging the infection and picking the wrong remedy to treat the same. This will only make things worse

Complications Associated With Ringworm In Babies

As mentioned earlier, ringworm on the scalp could lead to slight scarring or temporary hair fall or hair loss. The ringworm infection can cause a lot of discomfort to your baby, and your baby can scratch the affected area, which can lead to secondary fungal or bacterial infection.
Seek immediate medical attention if the infection does not get better or worsens even after a week’s treatment.

Preventive Measures To Avoid Re- Infection In Babies

Post-treatment, you need to take measures to ensure that the infection does not recur in your baby. Some of the preventive measures are:

  • Maintaining proper hygiene is of utmost importance
  • Cut your baby’s nail short so that he or she may not be able to scratch the infected area
  • Make the baby wear loose cotton clothes. Do not overdress to avoid excessive sweating
  • Wash the clothes, towels, and bedsheets every day in hot water
  • Wash the hands of the baby more frequently
  • Always keep the skin dry
  • Ask other members of the family to maintain hygienic routine
  • If your baby is walking, keep his feet covered with proper footwear especially while taking him to pools, parks or gardens
  • If your baby has ringworm infection on the scalp, treat all the family members with anti-fungal shampoo
  • Get your pet checked and treated by a vet for any kind of itching, bald spots or scaling

Ringworm is a contagious infection and precautions need to be taken to make sure that your baby is safe from it. Once you start the treatment, keep your baby away from daycare or his usual activities.
We hope this article helped you to understand better the causes, symptoms, and treatment options related to ringworm infection, which can affect your baby.
Has your baby ever suffered from ringworm? Please share your experience in the comments section below.

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