Ringworm: prevention, diagnosis and treatment in Kids

Anthropophilic fungi

They are only human parasites. This type of fungi is transmitted from person to person. It produces large epidemics in urban contact showers, swimming pools, schools, etc.

Zoophilic fungi

It normally lives on animals. They transfer in humans in contact with the infected animals. They are very contagious from person to person.

Geophilic fungi

They live in the soil feeding on animal keratin debris. Although they are rare, but they can infect humans directly or through animals by producing inflammatory ringworm.

What is ringworm?

Ringworm, is a skin infection that affects the face, trunk, neck and extremities. It is caused by a type of fungus called dermatophytes. The scientific name for ringworm is tinea corporis.

Dermatophytes are fungi that are only parasitic in nature, i.e. they attack on epidermis (it is the outermost layer of the skin), hair and nails. They have their natural habitat in the skin and hair of humans and animals, and in soil. From these sources, they can infect humans (specifically kids) and animals. They are classified as:

Ringworm can be produced by any dermatophyte, the most common are:

  • Canis
  • Trichophyton mentagrophytes
  • Trichophyton verrucosum
  • Trichophyton rubrum
  • E. floccosum.

Who is at increased risk of infection and how it is produced?

Ringworm can appear at any age, although children are those with the greatest risk of infection. They can easily spread it to other children (schools, kindergartens, etc.). In addition, children are those who are more in contact with pets. In most cases the infection is transmitted by animals (dogs, cats, rabbits, etc.).

Farmers are also at higher risks and those working with furry animals (breeders, laboratory staff, etc.)

The fungus is spread by direct contact with an infected person or animal. Under appropriate environmental conditions (heat, humidity) the fungus can cause ringworm. The most widespread form is ringworm of the feet, also known as athlete’s foot, affecting mainly kids. It may show signs or cause redness between the toes or macerate skin, causing intense itching. If left unchecked, the rash can spread to the rest of the foot and spread by nails and foot. To eliminate athlete’s foot, always under doctor’s prescription, you can apply an antifungal cream. Take care of the child’s feet by washing and drying them carefully. The ointment should be applied for 2-3 weeks, at least for another week after the disappearance of ringworm, but apparently when the foot is cured. In general, healing requires 2-3 weeks. Meanwhile, the child should keep a proper footwear . Avoid putting the child plastic shoes or too narrow shoes; shoes should be changed often.

What are the symptoms?

  • The lesions can be located anywhere on the skin.
  • Lesions are usually located on exposed skin (head, neck, face and arms).
  • Usually they appear as circular or oval-shaped red spots, raised red edges, with desquamation and sometimes with vesicles (fluid-filled blisters) or pustules (pus-filled blisters).
  • The lesions may be single or multiple.

How is it diagnosed?

Some skin diseases show similar symptoms but they require completely different treatments. Therefore, sometimes, the initial diagnosis must be confirmed by laboratory tests, although not always essential. Some diseases that may raise confusion with ringworm are: tinea versicolor, eczema, psoriasis etc. If you are in doubt about the diagnosis, it is advisable to visit a dermatologist.

What is the treatment?

Depending on whether the lesions are few or too many, topical treatments (applied directly to the skin) or systemically (orally) are performed. Among the most used are:

  • Imidazole derivatives (itraconazole, clotrimazole, tioconazole, sertaconazole, etc.)
  • Ciclopiroxolamine
  • Allylamines (naftifine, terbinafine)
  • Griseofulvin.

What can you do to avoid contact?

  • The fungi that cause infections are in many places, making it virtually impossible to eliminate totally.
  • It is important to examine the close contacts of the affected area to investigate evidence of diseased person. In principle, there is no justification to separate the infected children from school if effective treatment is indicated.
  • We recommend examining pets if they were affected, making an appropriate therapy when infection is suspected.
  • Contact with animals or people showing signs of infection should be avoided.

When to go to the pediatrician

It may be necessary visit the pediatrician when:

– The rash spreads to the rest of the child’s foot.

– If there is pus, it is a sign that there is an infection caused by streptococcus or staphylococcus.

– The child feels a lot of pain.

– Despite the application of the ointment, after a week from the start of treatment, the situation does not improve.

– The skin does not heal past four weeks from the start of treatment.

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