This skin disease is caused by a vegetable fungus and not by a worm as the name suggests. The disease on the body and scalp is caused by the same parasite, but ringworm of the body may attack adults as well as children, and is readily cured; ringworm of the scalp is a disease confined to children, and is difficult of cure. Ringworm is contagious and may be acquired from children with the disease, and therefore patients suffering from it should not be sent to school, and should wear a skull cap and have brush, comb, towels, and wash cloths reserved for their personal use alone. Children frequently contract the disease from fondling and handling cats and dogs.
Symptoms. On the body, ringworm attacks the face, neck, and hands. It appears first as small, red, scaly spots which may spread into a circular patch as large as a dollar with a red ring of small, scaly pimples on the outside, while the center exhibits healthy skin, or sometimes is red and thickened. There may be several patches of ringworm near each other and they may run together, or there may be only one patch of the disease. Ringworm of the scalp occurs as a circular, scaly patch of a dusty gray or pale red color on which there are stubs of broken hairs pointing in different directions, and readily pulled out. The disease in this locality is very resistant to treatment. There are no crusts or itching as in eczema.
Treatment. The application of pure tincture of iodine or carbolic acid to the spots with a camel’s hair brush, on one or two occasions, will usually cure ringworm on the skin. On the scalp the hairs should be pulled out of the patch of ringworm, and each day it should be washed with soap and water and a solution of boric acid (as much acid as the water can dissolve), destroying the cloth used for washing. The following ointment is then applied: sulphur, one part; tar, two parts; and lard, eight parts. It is desirable to secure the services of a physician in this disease, in which various remedies may have to be tried to secure recovery. If untreated, ringworm is likely to last indefinitely.