Dealing with Ringworm: Identifying and Treating the Infection


Ringworm is a common skin infection caused by a fungus rather than a worm or helminth. The fungus grows in moist areas and can occur on the skin and scalp. Most often, ringworm affects children, but you can get it at any age.

The infection is contagious. For example, you might come in contact with particles of ringworm on combs, dirty clothes, and showers. Ringworm can also be transmitted from dogs and cats. It causes itching and discomfort but is treatable. Although OTC medications are pretty effective, during its spread to the hair, prescription medications are required.

Ringworm symptoms

At the end of the incubation period, itchy ring-shaped red-pink spots appear on the skin. On the surface of these spots, you will see bubbles appear, after which there is a crust and peeling of the skin. The hair breaks and falls out.

Normally, the immune system is able to cope with the pathogen and prevent its activity, but there are a number of factors that increase the risk of ringworm, namely:

  • skin microtraumas;
  • lack of vitamins and microelements;
  • prolonged contact with the source of infection;
  • high humidity and air temperature;
  • exacerbation of chronic diseases, etc.

The appearance of the first signs of the disease requires a mandatory visit to a dermatologist. The lack of qualified treatment can lead to the rapid spread of infection throughout the body and cause a number of complications: scarring of tissues, death of hair follicles, allergic reactions, and the addition of a secondary infection.


Therapy depends on the degree of clinical manifestations, and includes the use of antimycotic drugs. This may be an antifungal cream or ointment. In some cases, the dermatologist prescribes oral drugs.

Oral medication

Ringworm on the head typically requires a prescription antifungal drug taken by mouth for 1 to 3 months. Prescription antifungal drugs are also used in cases when creams and powders are not effective including:

  • Griseofulvin. This is a special antibiotic produced by mold fungi. The way it is taken is also quite unusual. It is taken up to four times a day with meals and should be washed down with vegetable oil. The full course of therapy with this drug is from 1.5 to 2 months.
  • Terbinafine. This drug can be called universal, as it helps to quickly cope with a variety of skin diseases, including lichen. After the first application, both itching and inflammation disappear.
  • Itraconazole. This is another very effective medication. You can take two tablets at once or split between morning and evening intake.
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  • Fluconazole. Fluconazole is highly effective in many types of fungi, including those that are not amenable to other drugs. Fluconazole is taken by mouth, usually once a week for 6 to 12 weeks.
Antifungal creams and ointments

To treat ringworm, a number of non-prescription medications are available, including:

  • Clotrimazole. Ointments based on clotrimazole help well. It has antimycotic and antibacterial properties and helps reduce inflammatory processes.
  • Mikonazole. Antifungal and antibacterial drugs can contain the active ingredient miconazole. It is used for application to skin affected by ringworm and multi-colored lichen, with mixed infections of the skin.
  • Terbinafine. Effective drug for the treatment of ringworm and multi-colored lichen. Terbinafine is applied to inflammatory spots only once a day. You can also use it twice – in the morning and in the evening.
  • Ketoconazole. Antifungal ointments, creams, and shampoos based on ketoconazole prevent the production of substances (sterols) that are necessary for the reproduction of the fungus. As a result, the shell of the fungus itself is destroyed, the pathogen dies, and is excreted from the human body.

If you have a problem with ringworm, you have questions or doubts, you can seek help from a dermatologist.

Other important elements of the treatment plan are hygiene and care for a sick person:

  • boiling and ironing clothes that came in contact with the affected areas of the skin;
  • treatment of household surfaces with disinfectants to prevent the spread of spores;
  • frequent change of bed linen;
  • washing in the shower, not in the bath, etc.

Useful measures for the prevention of dermatological issues are maintaining proper hygiene, wearing loose clothing made of breathable fabrics, and avoiding the use of other people’s personal belongings. If your pet shows signs of illness, you should contact your veterinarian immediately.

When to see a doctor

If self-treatment with accessible medications does not help, or ringworm has affected the scalp or beard. Accordingly, you should see your doctor for another treatment that includes:

  • antifungal tablets or medicines that can be used externally;
  • antibiotics against infection.

If you get symptoms of infection (swelling, feeling warm, discharge, and fever) after scratching your ringworm, you should consult a doctor. If ringworm develops in areas where you have hair, or if it doesn’t go away with home remedies, you ought to consult your doctor.

Treatment length

The treatment process for ringworm is lengthy, usually taking at least six weeks, with systemic therapy typically lasting 15-25 days.

The effectiveness of therapy is evaluated using laboratory tests. In a situation where tests indicate a significant decrease in the number of fungal spores after 2 weeks of a drug course, it is necessary to continue the selected treatment. In some cases, the isolation of fungi can last several months.

Timely diagnosis and a properly selected therapy regimen can effectively eliminate ringworm in children and adults, preventing its spread. The ringworm is prone to recurrence since the presence of spores of viable fungi can cause re-infestation. It is crucial to adhere to the recommended course of treatment and respect all of the doctor’s advice.