Despite its unusual name, ringworm isn’t caused by a worm or any type of living parasite. Instead, it’s a skin condition that’s caused by a type of fungus called tinea. It lives on the dead tissues of skin, including your nails and hair. Ringworm looks like a red, scaly, itchy patch on your skin. Over time, it takes the shape of a circle or a ring and this is where the name “ringworm” comes from. It’s most common to appear on your arms and the scalp, but you can get it anywhere else on your skin, including your face. If ringworm develops in different areas, it may sometimes be called by a different name. For instance, when it affects the groin area, it’s referred to as jock itch. When it affects the area between your toes, it’s called athlete’s foot. Fortunately, ringworm can respond extremely well to some home treatments. A ringworm rash can be uncomfortable, but it is common and treatable. Early intervention is crucial to prevent spreading the infection to others. Here are simple ways to treat ringworm.
1. Apply a topical antifungal
Most cases of ringworm can be treated at home. You can visit your local drugstore or purchase antifungal cream, lotion, or powder. Over-the-counter antifungals can kill the fungus and promote healing. Effective medications include Cruex, Desenex and Lamisil. After cleaning the rash, apply a thin layer of antifungal medication to the affected area 2 to 3 times per day. Spread the treatment beyond the border of the rash by a couple of centimeters and allow the medication to absorb into your skin.
2. Common Prescriptions for Ringworm
Griseofulvin (Grifulvin V, Gris-PEG), Terbinafine, and Itraconazole are the oral medicines that doctors usually prescribe for ringworm.
- Terbinafine. If your doctor prescribes these tablets, you’ll have to take them once a day for 4 weeks and they work in most cases. Side effects are usually mild and don’t last too long. They might include nausea, diarrhea, indigestion, and rashes.
- Griseofulvin. You’d have to take this one for 8 to 10 weeks. Side effects include nausea, vomiting, mild diarrhea, headache, and indigestion. Griseofulvin can cause birth defects, so you aren’t going to be allowed to take it if you’re pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breastfeeding. On the other hand, men should use condoms during sex for up to 6 months after stopping treatment. It also can cause birth control pills not to work. Use condoms or another form of contraception if you’re on it.
- Itraconazole. This is prescribed in pill form for 7 or 15 days. It’s not for use in children, the elderly, or those with severe liver disease. While taking it, you may experience nausea, vomiting, indigestion, diarrhea, or headache.
3. Apple cider vinegar
Apple cider vinegar has antifungal properties against Candida, another fungal infection. To treat ringworm with apple cider vinegar, soak a cotton wool pad in the undiluted vinegar and wipe it on the affected area. You can repeat it up to 3 times a day.
4. Oregano Oil
Oregano Oil has been resorded to work just as well as antifungal treatments and antibiotics in some cases. Some powerful components of oregano oil, such as carvacrol, have been shown in studies to have incredible antifungal powers. When used topically for ringworm, it can truly clear up an infection fast. Just remember that it is extremely strong. Oil of oregano is an essential oil that you should always dilute with carrier oil. You only need a drop or two tops for an area of ringworm.
5. Tea tree oil
Tea tree oil can be extremely effective in treating fungal skin infections. Apply tea tree oil directly to the affected area two or three times a day with a cotton ball or swab. If you have sensitive skin, it may be helpful to dilute the tea tree oil in carrier oil like coconut oil, which has its own antifungal benefits as well.
Ringworm is a very common infection, and anyone can contract it. There are some people who are especially prone to infection, though. Anyone with a compromised immune system is at a higher risk of being infected by ringworm and will have a harder time fighting off an infection. One thing is for sure: it's not easy to prevent ringworm completely. However, by taking a few simple steps, your risk of developing ringworm will be lower.