What is Ringworm?
Ringworm is an itchy, red, scaly rash caused by a fungal infection. Ringworm typically looks like a ring-shaped rash with clearer skin in the middle. Ringworm gets its name due to its appearance, not because there are any worms involved.
Ringworm of the body (tinea corporis) is associated with athlete’s foot (tinea pedis), jock itch (tinea cruris), and ringworm of the scalp (tinea capitis). Ringworm can be transmitted through direct skin-to-skin contact with an infected person or animal.
Mild ringworm often responds to antifungal medications that you apply to your skin. For more-severe infections, you may need to take antifungal pills for several weeks.
You can take antifungal medicine to treat mild ringworm. All that you need to do is apply it to your skin. For more severe ringworm infections, you may need to take antifungal pills for several weeks as recommended by your doctor.
Feel free to make an appointment with your dermatologist through Smarter Health with no extra charge.
Causes of Ringworm
Ringworm is a contagious fungal infection. It is caused by parasites such as mold that live on the cells of the outer layer of your skin. Ringworm can be spread in the following ways:
- Human to human. Ringworm is often spread through direct skin-to-skin contact with an infected person.
- Animal to human. You can contract ringworm if you touch an animal infected with ringworm. Ringworm can spread when you pet or groom your pets such as dogs and cats. Ringworm infection is also common in cows.
- Objects to human. Ringworm can spread through contact with objects or surfaces that have recently been touched by a person or animal infected with ringworm. Examples of objects may include clothes, towels, bedding and linens, and etc.
- Soil to human. This is a rare case, but ringworm can be transmitted to humans through contact with infected soil. Infection will most likely occur only if you come into contact with heavily infected soil
When to See a Doctor for Ringworm
If over-the-counter treatments do not relieve symptoms of ringworm, you should talk to your dermatologist to get proper treatment.
Your doctor will likely diagnose ringworm just by looking at the affected area – as ringworm has distinctive signs and symptoms. He or she may also take a small skin scraping from the infected area to be examined under a microscope.
During the examination, your doctor may ask a number of questions regarding your ringworm condition such as:
- When did you first notice your symptoms of ringworm?
- What did the rash look like when it first appeared?
- Have you had a rash like this in the past?
- Does your pet or any family member have ringworm?
- Is the rash painful or itchy?
- Have you taken any medicines to treat it? If so, what kind of medications did you take?
After, your doctor will tailor a treatment plan based on your condition.
Symptoms of Ringworm
When your skin is itchy and develops a red rash, this may indicate a ringworm infection. Below are some signs and symptoms of ringworm:
- Overlapping rings.
- Round, flat, itchy skin
- Sightly raised rings.
- Scaly ring-shaped area, usually on the buttocks, trunk, arms and legs
- Clear, scaly area inside the ring – possibly with red bumps scattering around
Talk to a dermatologist if you have a rash that does not improve within two weeks of using an over-the-counter antifungal product. It is likely that you need medications prescribed by your doctor.
Treatment for Ringworm
If over-the-counter medications do not work to improve your condition, you may need an antifungal medication prescribed by your doctor, such as lotions, creams or ointments applied to infected area. If your have severe infections, you may be prescribed with antifungal pills.
Treatment Cost for Ringworm
Treatment cost for ringworm is fairly affordable as you only have to pay for consultation fees and antifungal medications.
To calculate the estimated treatment cost for ringworm at home and abroad, contact Smarter Health.
Prevention of Ringworm
Ringworm is difficult to prevent. The fungus that causes ringworm can be contagious, even before signs and symptoms appear. Take the following steps to lower your risk of ringworm:
- Always be aware of the risk of ringworm from an infected person or your pet. Tell your children about ringworm, what to watch out for, and how to avoid infection. Educating yourself and others is very important.
- Always maintain personal hygiene by washing your hands frequently. Maintain cleanliness in public areas, including at a school, child care center, or gym. If the type of sport you participate in involves contact with other people, take a shower right after your practice or match. Also make sure to keep your clothes and sports equipment clean.
- Do not wear thick clothing for too long in warm and humid weather. Avoid excessive sweating to prevent ringworm.
- Avoid infected animals. Ringworm infections in animals often look like a skin patch with missing fur. If you have pets or other animals, take them to your vet to make sure your pet is free of ringworm.
- Do not allow others to use your clothes, towels, combs, sports equipment, or other personal items. Also, do not borrow other people’s personal items to prevent the spread of ringworm.
Home Remedies for Ringworm
Apart from taking medications prescribed by your doctor, there are several home remedies for ringworm, such as:
- You should keep the area infected with ringworm clean to help prevent the rash from spreading further. Wash off the affected area with water and antibacterial soap on a daily basis. Be sure to dry the area after.
- Apple cider vinegar has strong antifungal properties – which can help treat ringworm if applied to the infected area. You can soak a cotton ball in apple cider vinegar and rub the cotton ball on the infected skin. Do this 3 times a day.
- Tea tree oil is often used as an antifungal and antibacterial medication. It can be very effective in treating fungal skin infections such as ringworm. Apply tea tree oil directly to the infected area 2 to 3 times a day using a cotton ball. If you have sensitive skin, you can mix tea tree oil with a carrier oil such as coconut oil.
- Coconut oil has antifungal properties which can help treat ringworm infections. This is a very effective topical home remedy for ringworm and other fungal infections, such as candida. Since it is very easy to apply to your scalp and is an effective hair conditioner, coconut oil can be an ideal treatment for scalp ringworm.
- Aloe vera has been used as a natural remedy for bacterial and fungal infections such as ringworm. Aloe vera can treat and relieve symptoms of itching and inflammation caused by ringworm. You can apply an ointment that contains aloe vera or apply aloe vera gel directly to the area. Do this at least 3 times a day.
Have more questions about ringworm? Write them down in the comment section below or contact a dermatologist at home and abroad through Smarter Health.