Q: Our new kitten has small patches on its face and ears. The hair there is falling out, and the skin looks scaly. Now my daughter has red patches on her hands and arms. Could she be getting something from the cat? -- K.R.
A: One possibility is that your kitten--and your daughter--have ringworm. This common fungus is easily transmitted from pets to people, especially to children. The kitten should be treated by a veterinarian. The most accurate way to diagnose ringworm is by microscopic examination of the hair and skin or by growing the fungus in a special culture bottle.
Depending on the severity of the infection, the kitten will be treated with repeated anti-fungal baths and an oral medication. Appropriate creams and ointments can be used to supplement those treatments. In addition, the environment should be thoroughly cleaned to prevent reinfection. It usually takes four to six weeks to clear up ringworm. Consult a physician about the red patches on your daughter's skin.