Ringworm: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment, Pictures

Notably known as the largest organ, the skin occupies massive parts of the body. Its main function is to safeguard the body from any sort of infection or disease. Yet, due to the severity of its job, the skin takes its toll from protecting the body. Hence, it is inevitable that it gets infected at times. The cause of skin infections can be bacteria, fungi, and viruses.

One of the most common skin infections complained by many individuals is the ringworm. It affects several skin parts of the body.

What is ringworm?

Ringworm is a typical skin infection caused by fungi, often referred to as tinea, dermatophytosis, or dermatophyte infection. The name is technically wrong, as a worm didn’t cause it, but a fungus. However, the wound or the abrasion created by the infection has a form and a look of a ring and a worm, respectively. Hence, the name derivation.

This skin infection usually affects and appears on the main part of the body, such as the trunk, legs, and arms. Thus, oftentimes referred by its technical or medical name tinea corporis. Tinea means worm, and corporis refers to the body in Latin, and so, the technical name. Nevertheless, ringworm appears or affects other parts of the body.

By saying that, ringworm on the scalp is tinea capitis from the Latin word caput that means head. The same thing goes with the ringworms on the feet referred to as tinea pedis, which relates to the foot in Latin. The ringworm that appears in between the spaces of your toes on your feet gets its generic name as the athlete’s foot.

Tinea cruris is a ringworm infection between the areas of the hip down to the leg or groin, as cruris means leg in Latin. It is also popular for its name jock itch. Tinea manuum is the ringworm that appears on the hand.

Initially, ringworm starts as red patches on the affected skin of the body that may eventually spread out to other body parts. It can also appear on the nails and beards, among many others. The fungus thrives on the dead tissues of the skin.

What are the symptoms?

Revealing signs that you have a ringworm skin infection is seeing a reddish, dry, and scaly patch or flaky bump, which is a bit irritably itchy. After some time, the scaly patch or flaky bump will turn into a ring-shaped blotch and may develop into many rings or circles. Usually, the inside of the blotch is clear or flaky while the outside may come out as a bit raised or protruding.

The ringworm on the scalp may tend to begin as a bump or a tiny sore. It may progress into a dry and flaky patch. With this, the scalp may feel soft and sore when you touch it. Another indicative sign is when hair begins to fall out in streaks or patches. Many people can think they have ringworm but instead, they have psoriasis.

Nonetheless, ringworms vary greatly depending on the effect of the fungal infection. Regardless, here are some of the significant signs or indicators for ringworms.

  • Reddish and scaly or flaky patches that are itchy
  • Raised spots or bumpy marks, often referred to as plaques
  • Developed blisters or pimple-like spots formed from patches
  • Patches that come out as more reddish on the outside borders or fringes forming like a ring
  • Elevated blotches with specified circular fringes or edges
  • Irritably itchy
  • Expanding ring-shaped borders
  • Overlapped circular edges

When you experience ringworms in your nails, they will tend to get thicker and appear discolored. They may also start to crack. This skin infection is medically termed as tinea unguium, from the Latin word unguis that means a fingernail, and also dermatophytic onchomycosis. When the scalp gets affected with this fungal skin infection, the hair that surrounds the affected scalp may fall off and create blotches or patches.

What causes ringworm?

By definition, ringworm is a communicable or contagious skin infection caused by a fungus. With that said, there are three classes of fungi causing tinea or dermatophytosis. These three kinds of fungi are as follows:

  • Epidermophyton
  • Microsporum
  • Trichophyton

These fungi may possibly thrive for a long period, like the spores in the soil. It’s not only humans that can contract ringworm or tinea because animals can get it too after getting in direct contact with the soil that has spores. The infection can also get transmitted by direct contact with infected individuals or animals. Children are usually the ones that can get dermatophyte infection most often, and thus, easily spread it out among them. Ringworm can also obtain by sharing things that housed the fungus.

In other words, the skin infection caused by fungi can get spread in a lot of ways, and below is a list of the most common causes of its transmission.

  • From person to person

Among the most common causes of the transmission of ringworm is direct contact with an infected person. When you have a skin-to-contact contact with the affected skin area of the person, you get exposed to the infection.

  • From soil to a person

A person can also get dermatophytosis from infected soil. It’s rare but possible. The skin infection would occur from extended exposure or contact with the infected soil.

  • From an object to a person

Another cause of the transmission is when a person or an animal gets in contact through rubbing with objects, such as bedding, blankets, brushes, clothing, combs, towels, linens, and other fabrics, that were previously used or touched by an infected individual.

  • From an animal to a person

Transmission of infection can also happen from an infected animal, which can spread through stroking or grooming fur babies. Ringworm is also common in cows.

The athlete’s foot or tinea pedis occurs when a person goes barefoot in public places where there are higher chances of fungi to dwell and spread, like swimming pools, locker rooms, and showers, among others.


The treatment of a skin infection varies according to the severity and location of the affected area. Doctors would recommend prescription drugs or over-the-counter medicines. Usually, topical medicines with antifungal properties, such as ointments, powders, lotions, or creams, will work great. The doctor may also recommend a lifestyle change and a few remedies found at home. Here is a list of the treatments or remedies for ringworm skin infection.

  • Home Remedies

Before experts created antifungal treatments, home remedies for skin infections came useful for the majority of people for many years. However, there’s no scientific data from the experts that would support the use of these remedies over the OTC antifungal medications.

So, here are the popular home remedies used by many people across the globe for many years before and after antifungal medications came to existence.

  • Apple Cider Vinegar

Using a cotton ball, soak it on an apple cider vinegar and apply it on the affected skin. You can do this treatment three (3) times every day to treat tinea or ringworm. The apple cider vinegar is quite popular as a home treatment by many people.

  • Coconut oil

Well, for years, coconut oil is more than just a condiment used in cooking. A lot of people also used coconut oil to lessen the existence of ringworm infections. You can apply coconut oil three (3) times per day on the infected area.

  • Turmeric

Like coconut oil, turmeric is also a popular ingredient to use for popular health-related nutritional benefits. Aside from being a staple ingredient in curries, turmeric is also a notable home treatment for ringworm by many people. Mix the turmeric and water together to create a paste. Then, apply it on the infected

Withal, you should use home remedies with caution. They shouldn’t replace the antifungal treatments or medications prescribed by the doctor. You may also discuss it with your doctor

  • Prescriptions and Medications

Usually, your doctor may give you prescriptions or medications that will depend on how serious is the ringworm skin infection. Nevertheless, athlete’s foot and jock itch, and other ringworm skin infections are usually get treated using topical medications that can be creams, sprays, gels, and other types.

For tinea unguium or ringworms in the nails, doctors will usually prescribe oral medications, including OTC antifungal creams to cure them.

  • Adjustments to lifestyle

Ringworm is communicable or contagious, which means it can spread through direct contact from infected people, animals, things, and soils. By saying so, adjustments to lifestyle are highly advisable and applicable. The doctors will recommend some changes to your daily activities and proper hygiene.

For this reason, here are a few tips that doctors or health experts would suggest you do to avoid infections dwelling at home.

  • Completely drying the areas after taking a bath
  • Thorough washing of bedding and clothes every day during an infection or even without infection
  • Disinfects the surroundings
  • Avoid wearing tight-fitted clothes that could trigger the affected areas. Wear loose-fitting outfits.
  • Proper treatments of the infected areas to prevent spread or recurrence

ringworm treatment home remedy

Diagnosis – Stages of ringworm and when to visit the doctor

Normally, you won’t notice ringworm immediately. When the fungus gets into your skin and infects you, you are usually clueless about it because the symptoms will begin appearing or showing a few days after, like a maximum to two weeks. The stages may vary accordingly, and below is a list of the stages that usually occur.

  • First Stage

You will start to notice a pinkish to reddish irritated blotch or patch on your skin. Most often, it appears extremely dry and flaky or scaly, but not exactly looking like ringworm.

  • Second Stage

In this stage, you will begin to notice abrasion or lesion growing in size. Usually, the focal point of the rash looks like a healthy skin surrounded by a scaly or flaky area.

So, when you begin to notice the presence of ringworm, it’s advisable that proper treatment should follow next. In this way, it won’t grow or spread out.

Is ringworm contagious?

Yes, it is contagious. This means that ringworm can get transmitted or spread out from one person to another and from things or animals to a person, vice-versa. However, it is treatable and curable.

Preventing ringworm

The truth is the fungi causing ringworm are everywhere, and unfortunately, they are unnoticeable. Yet, there are some preventive measures that you can observe and apply to lower any chances of getting skin infections or stopping it from spreading anyone else or elsewhere.

Among the most effective ways of preventing tinea, or any skin infection is to practice cleanliness and observe a healthy lifestyle. The absence of proper hygiene and a poor healthy lifestyle can bring about a lot of kinds of diseases, including skin infections. Without further ado, here are some ways that you can prevent ringworm or spreading ringworm.

  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water every after holding something, such as cuddling your fur babies
  • Bring alcohol and antibacterial wipes wherever you go
  • Don’t touch anything with bare hands in public places
  • Have your fur babies checked regularly by the vet
  • Get fur babies grooming services from specialists
  • Clean and disinfect your space, especially where your fur babies usually lives or stays
  • Avoid getting close to people or animal if your immune system is weak
  • Keep your skin clean and dry
  • Wear shower slippers in taking a bath, especially if you are sharing the bathroom with someone else
  • Wear shoes when walking around public places
  • Wear clean socks
  • Change your socks regularly, especially your underwear
  • Avoid walking with your barefoot in public areas
  • Do not share personal items, such as clothes, combs or brushes, and towels with anyone else

You see that it is all about taking care of yourself and your stuff. In this way, you will not get infected, and you can stop the spread of this fungal skin infection. Proper hygiene and cleanliness always go along together. So, observe proper hygiene and cleanliness wherever you are.

What does ringworm look like?

As its name suggests, ringworm resembles a circular fringe or ring and looks like a worm. Hence, it got its name as such. Again, a worm is not the reason for ringworm to occur, but a fungal skin infection.

Does rubbing alcohol kill ringworm?

No, rubbing alcohol cannot kill ringworm once it already thrives in your skin. However, you can use rubbing alcohol to prevent any kind of skin infection, including ringworm. Observing proper hygiene and cleanliness wherever you are can greatly help in the prevention.

By saying that, number one is to wash your hands always almost all the time. Then, use rubbing alcohol. You can only kill or cure ringworm with over-the-counter antifungal creams, gels, ointments, lotions, or sprays.

Sometimes the doctor will also give you a prescription drug, depending on the severity of your fungal infection. However, there are new products released with rubbing alcohol content, claiming that it can also treat ringworm.

What happens if ringworm goes untreated?

Ringworms are similar to any other skin diseases or infections. When they are left untreated, they will get worse, create complications, and spread out. It will spread out as much as it is irritating and annoying that may already impede you from doing your daily activities.

It is also transmittable, which means once something or someone has it, anyone can get it when they come in direct contact with any mentioned infected entities. So, don’t take it for granted. Treat it, as early as during the first stage, and be reminded that you are not only taking care of yourself but as well as the people you love.

Why do I keep getting ringworm?

Probably, because you might be missing out something from your proper hygiene, hence ringworm keeps recurring on your body. You might be using contaminated personal items, such as towels, sports equipment, socks, slippers, shoes, handkerchiefs, combs, clothing, and blankets, among many others.

Incorrect washing of infected clothing, bed linens, and other pieces of fabric materials that you use personally can recur ringworm.

Even as simple as washing your hands thoroughly with antibacterial soap and water can do great works from stopping the recurrence of the ringworm. You must also clean your rooms and spaces. Disinfect each area, every now and then, to make sure that any form of germs, like fungi, are no longer thriving. Wearing the same socks or outfits for days could also be the reason. Avoid wearing the same pieces of clothing, without properly washing them.

Perhaps, you are always getting in direct contact with infected soil, which is usually and unlikely to happen, but it is possible. So, if you love gardening, wear proper gardening gloves to avoid direct contact with the soil.

The fungi in the ringworm can stay in things that you are holding. So, always carry isopropyl rubbing alcohol with you wherever you go. Use it always, as often as possible, especially if there’s no soap and water available for you to do so.

How do you shower with ringworm?

Using warm water with salt is one of the most famous recommendations by many experts. Saltwater comes with an astringent element that can speed up the healing process of any wounds, such as the lesions or abrasions created by ringworms. You can put one to two cups of salt on the bathtub filled with warm water. You can use a bucket or pail if you don’t have a bathtub at home.

Once you made the saltwater solution, you can simply soak your infected arms, feet, hands, or legs into it for utmost half an hour or thirty minutes. For tinea capitis or ringworms on the scalps, you can wash your hair with an antifungal shampoo.

The good news is there are many over-the-counter shampoos with antifungal properties that can treat tinea capitis. However, taking oral medication is still the best way to cure it. Antifungal soaps are also available in the drug stores through OTC or an over-the-counter purchase. Your doctor can also prescribe the most effective product for your case of ringworm.

What is the best soap for ringworm?

Like antifungal shampoos, there are also soaps that offer treatment for fungi-related skin infections. With the existence of different kinds of skin infections or diseases, such as ringworms, there are already many soaps and body wash products that come with antifungal properties to treat tinea. However, you need to be extra careful when you choose a product. Don’t just buy the product because it’s cheap.

Remember that it is not about the price, but if the product is safe and effective. There are some organic products available too. Nevertheless, you should consult with your doctor to ask and verify the right product for you, as your physician clearly has the diagnosis of the severity of your ringworm.

Most of all, your attending physician knows the products that are safe and effective for you to use, considering the ingredients of the products that you might have allergies.

Key Points – Conclusion

Ringworms are infectious. It can recur and create complications. Hence, the key point is not to ignore or disregard ringworm. It may be a common skin infection that can occur in a lot of people, but it can get worse and spread out if disregarded and left untreated. It is your responsibility to prevent getting infected and spreading it.  So, here are a few takeaways that can help in stopping the infection or recurrence.

  • Wash your hands with antibacterial soap and water as often as possible
  • Carry isopropyl rubbing alcohol and antibacterial wipes wherever you go
  • Apply isopropyl rubbing alcohol and antibacterial wipes ever after you touch something in public
  • Never share personal care items, like combs, brushes, towels, and many others with other people
  • Wash your beddings, linen, blankets, and pillowcases thoroughly as often as possible
  • Keep your space clean
  • Make sure to treat ringworm during its first stage
  • Use skin medications and prescription drugs from the doctor
  • Use antifungal or antibacterial shampoos and soaps when you take a bath

Here are a few key points to risk factors of getting ringworm, tinea, or dermatophytosis.

  • Warm climate
  • Getting close or direct contact with an infected individual, object, or animal
  • Sports that feature consistent rubbing of skins or skin-to-skin contact
  • Weak immune system
  • Sharing personal care items
  • Improper washing of beddings, linens, pillowcases, and blankets
  • Wearing tight-fitted clothing

In conclusion, infections will not thrive, spread out, or recur when you meticulously observe cleanliness and follow proper hygiene.


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Categories: HealthSkin

Nicolas Desjardins

Hello everyone, I am the main writer for SIND Canada. I've been writing articles for more than 12 years and I like sharing my knowledge. I'm currently writing for many websites and newspapers. I always keep myself very informed to give you the best information. All my years as a computer scientist made me become an incredible researcher. You can contact me on our forum or by email at [email protected].