Ringworm: Symptoms, Treatment, Diagnosis & More You Should Know

Ringworm: Symptoms, Treatment, Diagnosis & More You Should Know

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Tinea, commonly known as ringworm, dermatophytosis, or dermatophyte infection, is a fungal infection of the skin. Other names for this condition include:

The term “ringworm” is actually a misnomer because the infection is caused by a fungus and not a worm. Because the lesion that this illness causes looks like a worm in the form of a ring, the infection’s name gives it that appearance.

The term “ringworm” refers more particularly to tinea corporis (ringworm of the body) or tinea capitis (ringworm of the head and scalp) (ringworm of the scalp). Tinea infections found in other areas of the body, such as tinea cruris, are sometimes referred to by the term (ringworm of the groin).

An infection caused by ringworm can occur in both people and animals. In its early stages, the infection manifests itself in the affected areas as discolored and often scaly patches. On lighter skin, these patches often seem red, but on darker skin, they appear brownish-gray.

It is possible for ringworm to spread from an infected location to other areas of the body, including the following:







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Recognizing ringworm symptoms

The symptoms are different depending on the location of the illness. When you have an infection of the skin, you could encounter the following symptoms:

itching itchy or scaly spots that are red, brown, or grey, or elevated portions of the skin called plaques itchy or scaly patches that are red, brown, or grey

a round, flat patch of skin that develops blisters or pustules and is itchy.

overlapping spots that look like rings, with darker colors on the outside of the rings, spots that have borders that are defined and elevated, and spots that overlap. loss of hair in the rings

The symptoms of ringworm can vary greatly from person to person and depend on where the area of the body is afflicted. Ringworm is referred to by a variety of names by medical professionals, depending on the location of the body where it is found.


Tinea corporis, often known as ringworm of the body, is the condition that is most frequently referred to when people talk about “ringworm.” This kind most frequently manifests itself as patches on the chest or limbs that have the distinctive appearance of a round ring.


Tinea capitis, often known as ringworm of the scalp, frequently begins as isolated scaling in the scalp and then develops into itchy bald patches that are scaled. Children are the most likely to be affected. The hair in and around the affected area may become brittle or fall out entirely, and bald spots may appear.


Tinea barbae, commonly known as ringworm of the beard, is a fungal infection that affects the cheeks, chin, and upper neck of a person and can lead to bald patches. Acne, folliculitis, or even another kind of skin problem could be mimicked by this. Some people have trouble staying awake and others get swollen lymph nodes.


Tinea manuum, also known as ringworm of the hand, is typically brought on by the act of contacting another infected location, such as the groin or the foot. An infection of the hand may manifest as extremely dry skin that has developed deep fissures on the palm.

If the infection continues to spread, you can notice ring-shaped spots on the palm of your other hand.


Tinea cruris, more commonly known as “jock itch,” is an infection caused by ringworm that affects the skin around the groin, inner thighs, and buttocks. It is particularly prevalent in adult males and male adolescents.

This typically manifests as a rash that is red, brown, or grey in color and irritating at the point where your leg and body meet. The itching could get worse after you exercise, even if you use an anti-itch lotion, and it might not get better at all.


Tinea pedis, sometimes known as athlete’s foot, is the medical term for the ringworm infection that can affect the foot. People who go barefoot in public settings where the infection might spread, such as locker rooms, showers, and swimming pools, are more likely to be affected by this condition than others.

This begins as dry, scaly skin between your toes and may eventually spread to the sole and heel of your foot. Among the possible symptoms are:

an itchy, stinging, or burning sensation

flaking and peeling with a putrid stench

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Onychomycosis, commonly known as tinea unguium, is an infection that affects the nails and is caused by ringworm. Toenails are more likely to be affected than fingernails because footwear generally creates a damp and warm environment, which is ideal for fungal growth.

Nails that are affected may grow more discolored or thicker. They may even start to fracture or pull away from your nail bed if you continue to bite down on them.

Causes of ringworm

There are around forty different kinds of fungi that can cause ringworm. Typically, they belong to the Trichophyton, Microsporum, or Epidermophyton species.

Fungi like this can survive on your skin as well as other surfaces, especially in wet environments. As spores in the ground, they are also capable of surviving for a considerable length of time.

There are four different routes by which the fungus can infect humans:

  • Human to human. If you come into touch with someone who has ringworm, or if you share personal objects like combs or towels with that person, you run the risk of contracting the illness. The infection is typically passed from child to child, in addition to being disseminated through the sharing of objects that carry the fungus.
  • Animal to human. It is possible to contract ringworm by coming into contact with an infected animal or even an object that the animal has been exposed. Although cats and dogs are the most common carriers, other animals, such as those kept on farms, are also capable of spreading the fungal.
  • a counterargument to humans. If you come into contact with an object or surface that carries the infection, such as a telephone or the floor of a public shower, you run the risk of contracting it yourself. These fungi do particularly well in wet conditions.
  • From the ground up to the people. Ringworm is a fungal infection that can affect both humans and animals and is spread through direct contact with soil that contains the fungi.

Ringworm risk factors

Ringworm can affect everyone, but the following factors may put you at a greater risk for developing it:

inhabit a climate or habitat that is warm and humid.

Participating in contact sports such as wrestling or football and using public showers and locker rooms is recommended.

if you: have diabetes obesity or are overweight sweat excessively have a weakened immune system come into close contact with animals wear tight shoes or clothes that chafe the skin have a weakened immune system comes into close contact with animals wear tight shoes or clothes that chafe the skin come into

Getting a ringworm diagnosis

Your physician will diagnose ringworm by performing a physical examination of your skin and may also use a black light to see the region that is afflicted. It is possible for certain types of fungus to fluoresce (glow) when examined with a black light in certain circumstances.

The following tests may be requested by your doctor in order to confirm a diagnosis of ringworm:

In the event that you are going to have either a skin biopsy or a fungal culture, your doctor will take a sample of your skin or the discharge from a blister and send it to a lab in order to determine whether or not fungus is present.

If you are receiving a KOH exam, your physician will scrape off a tiny piece of damaged skin onto a slide and then pour drops of a liquid called a potassium hydroxide (KOH) on it. This will determine whether or not you have psoriasis. The normal skin cells are shattered by the KOH, which enables the fungal elements to be more easily observed under a microscope.

Ringworm treatment

To treat ringworm, your physician may advise you to make changes to your lifestyle in addition to taking medicine.


The severity of your ringworm infection will help your doctor determine which treatments are best suited to treat your condition.

Topical antifungal drugs, such as those used to treat jock itch, athlete’s foot, and ringworm of the body, can typically be used to treat all three of these conditions.

creams \sointments \sgels \ssprays

Oral medicines may be used to treat less common but more severe situations.

Oral prescription drugs of a stronger strength, such as griseofulvin (Gris-PEG) or terbinafine, may be necessary for treating ringworm of the scalp or nails.

Your primary care physician might also suggest that you try over-the-counter (OTC) drugs or antifungal skin treatments. These products might have clotrimazole, miconazole, or terbinafine as a component, along with other similar substances.

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Lifestyle adjustments

Your doctor may recommend that you treat the infection at home in addition to taking medication that you have been prescribed and medication that you have purchased over the counter.

Cleaning your clothing and bedding on a daily basis will assist keep the environment sanitary.

After you get out of the shower, make sure your skin is completely dry.

putting on garments with loose fittings in affected areas

addressing all areas that are afflicted by tinea pedis, as failure to treat tinea pedis can result in a recurrence of tinea cruris

Ringworm home remedies

Before medical researchers developed effective antifungal medications, many years had passed during which people treated ringworm with home cures.

The majority of evidence supporting the utilization of these treatments is anecdotal. Their use rather than over-the-counter antifungals are not supported by any scientific data.

These therapies consist of the following:

  • Apple cider vinegar. As a treatment for ringworm, some people use cotton balls soaked in apple cider vinegar and apply them to the infected parts of their skin three times daily.
  • Coconut oil. Coconut oil is rubbed into the skin as a preventative measure against ringworm, which is a common skin illness. If you are interested in giving this treatment a shot, you should apply coconut oil anywhere from once to three times every day.
  • Turmeric. A paste that is effective against fungal infections can be made by combining the common spice turmeric with water. Apply the paste to your skin in a thin layer and wait for it to dry completely.

A caution about home remedies

The use of antifungal medicines that are known should never be substituted with home cures. Instead, have a conversation with your primary care provider about any complementary or alternative treatments you might be interested in pursuing.

Ringworm essential oils

Extractions of flowers, herbs, and other types of plants that are extremely concentrated are known as essential oils.

There is no scientific evidence to support the routine use of essential oils in treating antifungal infections like ringworm; there is just anecdotal evidence to support this practice.

Before using essential oils, you should talk to your physician about the possibility of doing so, and you should not use them in place of conventional treatments.

The following are examples of essential oils that are commonly used to treat ringworm:

oregano oil

essential oils of lemongrass and tea tree

Because of the potency of these oils, you should first dilute them with a carrier oil, such as coconut or olive oil, before applying the resulting mixture to your skin.

There is anecdotal evidence to suggest that combining two or three essential oils with a carrier oil can produce superior outcomes; however, this is not supported by scientific evidence.

Ringworm stages

When you initially come into contact with the fungus, you likely won’t notice any symptoms of ringworm immediately soon. Before you even begin to notice any symptoms, it may take as long as two weeks. The following are some of the stages you might encounter:

At the very beginning. During this stage, you may observe a patch of skin that has become inflamed and discolored. Sometimes, it looks nothing more than extremely dry and scaly skin, not necessarily like ringworm at all.

The second phase. At this point in the process, you will see that the lesion has begun to expand in size. The core of the rash may have the appearance of healthy skin, but the area around it may be scaly.

Because ringworm is extremely contagious, you should begin treatment as soon as you see any symptoms of the condition. If you don’t do anything, it can get worse and spread.

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Is ringworm contagious?

Ringworm can affect people of any age or gender. On the other hand, children and people who own cats or dogs are disproportionately likely to be infected with the disease. Ringworm is contagious and can be transmitted from cats and dogs to people who come in contact with them.

Some of the warning signs to look out for in pets are as follows:

bald spots on the skin that have a crusty or scaly appearance and occur in circular patterns

regions that may or may not be fully bald, but have hairs that are fragile or damaged.

parts that are opaque or white all around the claws

If you have any reason to suspect that your pet may have ringworm, you should take them to the veterinarian as soon as possible.

If you come into touch with fungus while your skin is soft and wet as a result of extended exposure to water (macerated), or if you come into contact with fungi while you have minor skin injuries or abrasions, your risk of developing dermatophytosis may be increased.

Using public facilities like showers or swimming pools can potentially put you at risk of contracting harmful fungi.

You run the risk of developing ringworm on your feet if you frequently go barefoot. Those who frequently exchange personal belongings with others, such as hairbrushes or clothing that has not been washed, are also at a higher risk of contracting the virus.

Ringworm vs. eczema

Ringworm and another ailment called nummular eczema can look very similar to one another. Nummular eczema can also be referred to as discoid eczema or nummular dermatitis by medical professionals.

Both of these illnesses generate lesions on the skin that are round or coin-shaped, thus they are comparable in that regard. The lesions are typically scaly and irritating at the same time.

A person who suffers from ringworm would typically have a smaller number of rings or patches on their skin than someone who suffers from nummular eczema. In contrast to ringworm, nummular eczema typically does not have a clearing (area of skin that looks normal) in the center of the affected area.

Ringworm, unlike nummular eczema, may be accompanied by pustules at times. Nummular eczema, on the other hand, does not normally do so.

Sometimes the symptoms of the two disorders are so similar that the only way to differentiate between them is to consult with a medical professional. A dermatologist can extract tissue samples from the patient’s skin and then have those samples analyzed in a laboratory.

Nummular eczema is treated differently from ringworm by medical professionals. They utilize topical steroids, which, if used for ringworm infections, can disguise the infection while also making it worse. These drugs are used by these people. There is no evidence that antifungal ointments can improve nummular eczema.

Ringworm vs. psoriasis

Psoriasis is another skin disorder that has similarities to ringworm and can often be mistaken for it. Plaque psoriasis is a skin condition that is caused by a disturbance in the immune system and manifests itself as inflammatory plaques on the skin.

Plaque psoriasis manifests itself on lighter skin as pink plaques that are covered in thick, white scales. When it occurs on darker skin, it looks like scales of grey color over purple spots.

Ringworm can occasionally look like small plaques that are isolated on their own. Psoriasis and ringworm, two common skin conditions, can both result in discolored patches of skin, in addition to itching and scaling.

Ringworm on your torso or limbs, on the other hand, will typically have the look of a circle with a hole in the center of the circle. In most cases, the affected area will be a single lesion or a small cluster of lesions at most.

Lesions caused by plaque psoriasis appear on certain parts of the body, such as your lower back, elbows, and knees, and are typically larger and more extensive than those caused by other types of psoriasis. Lesions caused by psoriasis almost never have a clean space in the center of the lesion.

Both disorders can be traced back to a variety of distinct root causes. Psoriasis is caused by a defective immune system, but ringworm is caused by a fungal infection.

Ringworm complications

Ringworm can infect other parts of your body if it is not treated in a timely manner. You have the additional danger of passing the infection on to another person. Additional possible issues include the following:

baldness, nail abnormalities, and scarring dark markings left on your skin, particularly on darker skin

secondary infection, which is prevalent in youngsters, in the event that any germs invaded damaged skin.

Majocchi’s granuloma is an extremely uncommon fungal illness that occurs when the fungus has penetrated deeper layers of the skin.

Tinea capitis can lead to permanent hair loss that can last a person’s entire lifetime, which is one of the problems that can be cause for concern. In light of the fact that these issues could arise, it is in your best interest to treat ringworm as soon as humanly possible.

Preventing ringworm

Ringworm can be avoided in part by adhering to a healthy lifestyle and maintaining good personal hygiene. Infections are a risk whenever there is interaction with animals or a lack of proper hygiene. The following is a list of some helpful hints to prevent ringworm:

Limiting contact with people or animals with ringworm if you have a weakened immune system washing your hands after interacting with an animal disinfecting and cleaning pet living areas wearing shoes if showering or walking in community areas not sharing personal items like clothing, towels, or hairbrushes with people who might have ringworm changing your socks and underwear at least once a day if you play sports keeping your gear and uniform clean if you ski or snowboard keeping your skis and snowboards clean if you ski or snowboard

Ringworm during pregnancy

In the event that you become pregnant and get ringworm, there are drugs available to treat the condition that are not known to pose any risks to the developing baby.

These medications, when applied topically, are perfectly safe to use, and some examples of them include:

ciclopirox (Loprox) clotrimazole (Lotrimin) naftifine (Naftin) oxiconazole (Oxistat) terbinafine

However, before taking any medications while pregnant, it is important to discuss your options with your primary care physician.

Due to the ethical considerations involved, it is impossible to do adequate research on the vast majority of drugs in pregnant persons. Therefore, it is quite difficult to state with absolute certainty that a medication, regardless of whether it is topically applied or taken orally, will be safe to use.

When treating fungal infections in pregnant patients, oral drugs are not typically recommended by medical professionals. Oral ketoconazole and oral miconazole are two examples of drugs that can potentially cause undesirable and well-documented adverse effects when taken in oral form.

If you are pregnant and have ringworm, it is best to consult your doctor before taking any form of medication or home remedy to treat your disease. This is true regardless of the medication that you choose to use to treat your illness.

If you are breastfeeding, you should also consult your physician before beginning treatment with any medicine.

Ringworm from dogs

Ringworm is something that can be caught from your dog. Fungus spores can be picked up by dogs from their surroundings, and then those spores can be transferred to anything the dog’s hair comes into contact with. Examples include:

bedding \scarpeting \sclothing

The dog cleans the food bowls.

Always be on the lookout for symptoms of ringworm in your dog. They will typically have a pattern of circular bald spots on their skin, which indicates a lack of fur. If you see this, you should consult the veterinarian who treats your dog.

In order to minimise the possibility of catching an infection from your pet, you should always wash your hands thoroughly after caressing him or her.

Ringworm from cats

The American Kennel Club reports that cats have a significantly higher risk of contracting ringworm compared to dogs. They are also capable of transmitting the disease to human beings.

If you find ringworm on your cat, just like if you found it on your dog, you should contact your local veterinarian. They are able to provide antifungal therapy prescriptions.

You should also wash your hands after caressing your cat and make an effort to clean all of the equipment that cats interact with, such as brushes and water bowls. This will help prevent the spread of disease.

You can treat ringworm the same way you would treat any other fungal illness if it turns out that it was transmitted to you by your cat. This includes antifungal creams and ointments.


Ringworm on your chest and limbs may be completely cured by topical treatments in two to four weeks.

If you have severe dermatophytosis that isn’t responding to over-the-counter medicines or home remedies, or if you suspect that you have a tinea infection of your scalp or hair follicles, your doctor may prescribe antifungal medications to help clear up the infection and get rid of the dermatophytosis.

The majority of patients exhibit favourable responses to treatment.

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