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Updated: 4/11/2007 2:47 pm
Ringworm is a common and easily-treated skin infection. Many years ago, it was believed to be caused by a worm present under the skin, but it's now known that the circular-shaped lesions-- hence, the name-- are the body's response to a fungus. In children, ringworm can appear as a scaly round patch on the chest or the side of the scalp, and there may be hair loss. It can be transmitted by contact with an infected human or animal, often a young pet, such as a puppy or kitten. It's also common among athletes, especially those participating in contact sports. Athlete's foot and so-called 'jock itch' are forms of ringworm. The condition causes intense itching, especially in warm weather. Scalp ringworm may be confused with dandruff or 'cradle cap,' which is a disease that occurs only during infancy. Ringworm can be treated using over-the-counter antifungal creams and sprays, prescription topical medications, or in severe cases, antibiotics. There's also a special shampoo that may be used by other family members to help prevent its spread. Ringworm can be prevented by making sure children avoid contact with anyone who's infected. Teach them not to share clothing, towels, combs, or brushes with others.

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