The Creeping Crud

It started out as a little red patch on Michael’s scalp. I was worried something had bit him.

I had my brother take a look at it at my nephews’ birthday party. He shrugged. It just looked like irritation. He said maybe cradle cap — his kids had never had it, and since he’s not a pediatric dermatologist, he wasn’t familiar with it. I resolved to look up the treatment for cradle cap on the Internet when I got a chance.

The patch became more ring-shaped. And another one appeared on his scalp.

Dan looked them over. “That’s where his horns are coming in,” he said.

Har, har.

The pediatrician looked at it. “Probably cradle cap,” he said. “Use a dandruff shampoo. If it doesn’t go away, we’ll take another look.”

He got it on his bum. So I brought him back to the pediatrician.

“Oh, yeah. That’s ringworm,” the pediatrician said, looking at his bum.

He was more concerned about the breakouts on his scalp. When it gets into the hair follicles, it usually takes an oral medicine to eradicate ringworm — a fungus, not an actual worm — and he had no idea what the dosage would be for a baby.

He called the pediatric dermatologist. “Is he black?” the derm asked. Apparently, it’s much more common in black children. Uh, no. “Does he live on a farm?” No again. “Hm. That’s weird. Have her use clortrimazole on it.” What about on his head? “Well, if it doesn’t go away with topical treatment, I’ll have to see him. He’s so little, I have no idea what the dosage would be.”


Back in December, my brother was looking at Kate’s face.

“What’s that rash around her nose?” he asked.

“I don’t know. Chapped skin,” I said. He’s the dermatologist.

“I don’t think that’s chapped skin. I think that’s ringworm.”



“Well what do I do about it?”

“Use an anti-fungal cream for a couple of weeks. Like something you would use for athlete’s foot.”

I did. It cleared up. Of course, in the meantime, when she deigned to pay attention to M at all, she was kissing his head.

It is really, really hard not to kiss a baby’s head.


I mentioned this conversation to the pediatricians (my doctor had brought in another doctor for a second opinion. She agreed that is was ringworm).

“So that’s probably how he got it,” she said.

“Sure,” I agreed. “But where did Kate get it? She’s white too.”

I, clearly, am an idiot.

The peds just smiled. “Well,” said the woman pediatrician, “he’s just special I guess.”


Along with ear infections, skin problems seem to be rampant with my kids. The girls both had molluscum contagiosum, which is a really common virus in kids — but Flora had it on her face, which is highly unusual. I guess we’re just fated to be an unusual family when it comes to skin ailments. Oh well.

7 thoughts on “The Creeping Crud

  1. You know, as soon as I started to read this, I read RINGWORM.

    Nurses. We see it all.

    Isn’t it fun the things kids get? I can’t WAIT for the lice to start. Insert sarcasm here.

    • Know-it-all! 😉

      Sometimes, I truly feel like keeping my children barricaded in the house with me. But even then, I’m sure they’d manage to get something disgusting.

  2. I think this is a family thing, no? As unappealing as this sounds, I’ll tell you that I have been prone all my life to fungal skin infections. And just last fall, H had ringworm. It clears up with over the counter stuff as you found out but it’s unsightly and a pain! Have you talked to your dad about it? Ah genetics…

  3. Oh Noooo!!! I had ringworm one summer in college. I had adopted a cat that had it and lost all of her fur, so I got the kind that gets transmitted from animals, but I couldn’t give it to another human (apparently, there are different kinds). I got it all over my arms, stomach and legs. That hard part was that I was waitressing and had to wear long sleeves when it was 100 degrees. I lived in fear that it would reach my scalp. It was mortifying.

    We are currently dealing with molluscum. Google it. Ella is miserable. I never heard of it until we moved here. Ten kids in our neighborhood have/had it.

    • Oh, yeah, the girls both had molluscum. I don’t remember it bothering them — although Kate picked at hers a lot (they were on her inner thighs, so that looked great). It is very common, which isn’t really any consolation. It takes forever to go away, or at least it did for the girls, up to 2 years.

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