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Those blemishes are scary. Any scars, marks or infection on the tender skin of your baby could give you nightmares. One such cause for nightmares is ringworms. The condition has nothing to do with worms but results in pink rings due to infection on your baby’s scalp or body. The contagious fungal infection could lead to athlete’s foot.
In many cases, ringworm occurs when there is a cut or eczema patch on the skin. It spreads from an infected person or through a pet. MomJunction explains the causes of ringworm in babies. We also help you identify the symptoms, and understand the treatment process. But how do you take care to prevent the infection from reappearing? We have some tips at the end.
What Is Ringworm?
Ringworm or dermatophytosis is an infection caused by different species of fungi. Dermatophytes of the genera Trichophyton and Microsporum are the most common causative agents. Tinea is the medical name for dermatophyte infections.
Symptoms Of Ringworm Infection
Ringworm starts as scaly, red patches on the skin and grows into rings. As the infection grows, the rings get larger from a few millimeters to a few centimeters in diameter. However, ringworm may not always appear in a ring shape.
The rings are scaly or crusty on the outside and smooth in the middle. The infected area could be itchy, but not dangerous or painful.
[ Read: Causes Of Baby Skin Allergies ]
Which Body Parts Are Affected?
The infection usually affects the scalp and other body parts, including stomach, thighs, back, arms, chest and sometimes the face.
On the scalp, ringworm appears as bald patches or dandruff. It could be crusty and dry rings or even moist rings filled with pus. The scalp ringworm can become kerion, which is a moist, swollen lesion over the area where the ringworm first appeared. It is an inflammation resulting from the fungus.
The rings have pustules or pimple-like bumps, which gradually subside as the treatment begins.
Now, what are the possible factors causing ringworm in babies?
What Causes Ringworm In Babies?
Babies hardly move from their place. They cannot touch anything until you make them to. Then how can they contact an infection? Here are some reasons why babies contact ringworm:
1. Skin-to-skin contact:
Your baby might get infected by direct skin-to-skin contact with a person infected with ringworm. It can occur when your baby holds the hands of an infected person, who has touched or scratched his rash.
2. Broken skin:
A cut, eczema patch or scratch paves the way for the infection to enter the body. The fungus can get in if the baby comes in contact with infected sheets, toys, towels, clothes, or just while crawling in a park or a garden.
3. Shared things:
Ringworm on baby’s scalp occurs when the baby uses an infected person’s objects such as the hairbrush, towels, bedclothes, or hats.
4. Through pets:
Kittens and puppies can transfer ringworm to humans. If the baby comes in direct or indirect touch with the infected pet, it increases the risks.
In addition to the above reasons, certain factors increase the possibility of ringworm in babies:
- Warm climate (where tinea thrives)
- Babies with a weak immune system
- Some experts believe that a few babies have genetic tendency to get infected.
- Excessive sweating could increase the chance of getting ringworm as the condition thrives in a humid climate.
[ Read: Cradle Cap In Babies ]
How Is Ringworm Diagnosed?
The doctor performs a physical examination to diagnose ringworm. He may view the irritated area under a light or scrape the skin slightly and examine it under the microscope. He may also propose a lab test of the flakes for confirmation.
Ringworm Treatment For Babies
Follow the antifungal treatment prescribed by your doctor.
Do not go for home remedies, as there is a high possibility of misdiagnosis or picking a wrong remedy, thereby worsening the things.
The pediatrician would prescribe an anti-fungal cream containing 1to 2% Miconazole or Clotrimazole. A mild over-the-counter ointment is a good way to cure ringworm (1). Common brands include Lamisil, Micatin, and Lotrimin.
How to Apply:
- Clean the affected area with water and pat dry.
- Apply the cream, spread a little over and beyond the infected area.
- Do it twice a day. Continue for a week or two even after the rash clears to prevent re-infection.
- Allergy test: Initially, apply a small quantity of the cream to check whether or not your little one is sensitive or allergic to it. If you find a new rash, then take your baby to the doctor immediately. He may suggest an alternative medication.
- Babies with ringworm are not contagious after 48 hours of treatment. The infection should subside within four weeks of treatment. If it does not, then seek your doctor’s help. He may prescribe an oral (liquid) anti-fungal medication.
[ Read: Symptoms Of Hives In Babies ]
- Ringworm on the scalp is tougher to treat and can take as long as six to eight weeks to clear up. The doctor may prescribe an anti-fungal shampoo or tablet, suitable for your little one.
Follow the treatment regimen religiously to avoid any further complications in your baby, such as spreading of the infection to the other parts of the body.
Complications Associated With Ringworm In Babies
Ringworm on the scalp could result in slight scarring or temporary hair loss or hair breakage.
The infection may lead to secondary infections fungal or bacterial infections due to scratching. Seek medical help if you do not find any improvement in the rash even after the treatment for a week.
Precautions To Avoid Re-infection
Hygiene is the most important factor to avoid re-infection:
- Keep your nails short to prevent further damages or scratches on the rashes.
- Cut your baby’s fingernails to avoid self-scratching and spread of the infection.
- Self-scratching leads to the development of bacterial infection. Avoid this by putting little socks or mittens on his hands during sleep-time.
- Wash the area gently and keep it dry, particularly the areas between the toes and the skin folds.
- Wash your hands thoroughly before and after applying the cream or shampoo. Ask everyone in the family to follow a hygienic routine.
- If you have a pet at home, take him to the vet for checkup and treatment. Check the pet for itching, bald spot, and scaling.
- Wash your baby’s items, including toys, hair brushes, clothes, sheets, and towels, frequently. Do not allow others to use them.
- Cover your baby in loose cotton clothes. Cover his hands and legs as well. Do not overdress to avoid excessive sweating.
- Wash all the clothes, beddings, and other belongings at home. Throw away the brushes or clothes that might have caught the infection.
- If your little one is walking, keep him on footwear especially at pool areas, parks, and locker rooms.
- Treat all the family members with anti-fungal shampoo, if your baby has ringworm on the scalp.
- If your baby is going to daycare, inform the caretakers about his infection. Talk to them about the measures they need to take.
[ Read: Fungal Skin Infection In Babies ]
Ringworm is a fungal infection that is contagious. You need to take every possible measure to ensure that your baby is safe from it.
If you find a fast-spreading infection, visit your doctor as immediate treatment is necessary. On the bottom line, your baby need not be away from his nursery or usual activities once you start the treatment.
Have you faced this situation at your home? Let us know your experience here to help our readers further.
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