I am a mom and I have a work history as a pediatric RN. This post is 100% my own personal opinions and views. My views and advice do not replace the counsel of a qualified healthcare professional. Please see my disclaimer page statement for more details.
Ringworm infections are gross. There is no doubt about that. Most people think it’s an actual worm, but it’s not a worm. It is a fungal infection. It is a contagious and stubborn fungal infection. We had it run through several members of our family this past winter and it was a strong strain we had trouble getting rid of. It was quite a nasty ordeal for us. As a mom with a history as a nurse, I’m sharing my story and experiences of ringworm infection in my own family.
One day I saw a red area on my son’s thumb. He neglected to inform me about it right away even though he knew it had been there for a while. It was winter so I thought it was just a dry skin patch. We started out putting lotion on it but that didn’t seem to help. The next step I took was to apply antibacterial ointment to it daily. That seemed to help a little, but it still looked red and it was starting to bother him and even hurt. Being it was on his thumb, it didn’t look round and I didn’t even consider ringworm at that point until I saw my youngest son develop a red circular patch on his chin and suddenly I knew we had ringworm.
How I Treated the Ringworm Infection in My Kids:
I wanted to start with the OTC medication for ringworm in hopes this would take care of our problem without having to resort to the oral medications for ringworm infection. I consulted our pediatrician and she said to apply the OTC ringworm cream to the area every day for six weeks to get rid of it.
Make sure you contact your own pediatrician if you suspect your child has ringworm so you can obtain their recommendation for your own child’s treatment plan.
Ringworm is Contagious:
My son with the ringworm infection on his thumb had unknowingly spread it to my youngest son’s chin. I knew immediately how it happened as I often would catch my youngest son wiping his mouth on the bathroom hand towel. The same hand towel my son with the ringworm dried his hands with each time he went to the bathroom. Having kids who go to a school full of germs I do change the towel daily, but since this fungal infection is so contagious a shared towel one day caused it to spread.
We figured out my oldest probably contracted the ringworm from school as he had been doing weight lifting club. At school, he spent time in the weight lifting room and in the wrestling room where the mats were located. I’ve often heard of other kids contracting ringworm infections from wrestling mats so this made sense to me.
Further Spread of the Infection:
My child with ringworm on his chin liked to snuggle our hamster up to his chin. Before we knew his red skin chin patch was ringworm he continued to rub the little hamster with his chin. Initially I never suspected his red chin was ringworm. I thought it was a winter skin dry patch for the first week so he rubbed his chin every day on the hamster. Our poor little hamster lost fur on his back and his skin became red and inflamed. Yep, my son had spread the ringworm infection to the poor hamster.
We brought the little balding hamster to the vet and they confirmed that he too had ringworm. The vet gave us cream and an oral medication to give the little guy for a month. But that didn’t work and the stubborn ringworm infection was better but persisted. We knew we couldn’t cover his whole body in cream because he would lick the cream and it was not to be ingested. He proceeded to lose all of his fur and became completely bald. The vet had to resort to dipping him in the treatment which worked great for the first three treatments but something happened to him after the fourth treatment and he passed away during the night. We lost our poor little bald dude to a dumb ringworm infection.
Ringworm Can Spread to the Nail:
Meanwhile my oldest son’s thumb appeared to be healed until one day he told me his nail looked funny. Each day his nail worsened and I suspected the ringworm was now attacking his fingernail. I purchased an OTC nail ringworm treatment called Kerasal and we began to apply it every night before bed. The infection spread quickly down his thumbnail until his nail came completely off.
A tween boy who is missing a thumbnail is not a happy guy! We continued to apply the OTC nail treatment to his skin where the nail fell off. We followed the recommendations on the package and his nail started to grow back. He and I were both fearful the nail would not grow back. I continued to apply the ringworm nail treatment until the nail was fully grown back which took several months. The ringworm infection has not recurred and he has a normal nail again.
No one else in our house became infected with the ringworm infection so we stopped the spread. Now I know what to look for and that if it’s on a finger or thumb, it may not be obvious that it is a round shape. The ringworm on my son’s chin was characteristically round which made it more obvious that it was ringworm.
Always consult your doctor if you suspect ringworm to get your doctor’s advice for this contagious infection. I hope my story helped give some advice from one parent to another.
Julie, Nurse Mom
This is the fourth installment in my Children’s Healthcare Series. To read my other posts in this series click this link: https://www.juliehoagwriter.com/childrens-healthcare-series/