What Is Ringworm?

Ringworm is a fungal illness of the skin that is also known as dermatophytosis, dermatophyte infection, or tinea.

The term “ringworm” is a misnomer, as the infection is caused by a fungus, not a worm. The infection results in a lesion that resembles a worm in the shape of a ring, therefore the name.

Although the term “ringworm” is most frequently used to refer to tinea corporis (body ringworm), it can also be used to refer to tinea infections in other areas, such as tinea cruris (ringworm of the groin).

Humans and animals are both susceptible to ringworm infestation. The infection manifests first as red spots on the affected skin areas and can spread to other parts of the body. It can manifest itself in a variety of ways, including the scalp, foot, nails, crotch, beard, and other regions.

The Symptoms Of Ringworm

Symptoms vary according to the location of infection. You may encounter the following symptoms if you have a skin infection:

  • Patches of skin that are red, itchy, scaly, or elevated areas of skin termed plaques
  • Blisters or pustules on patches, possibly redder on the exterior borders or resembling a ring
  • Patches with defined and elevated edges

Your nails may get thicker or pigmented, or they may begin to crack if you have dermatophytosis. This condition is referred to as tinea unguium, or dermatophytic onychomycosis. If your scalp is impacted, the hair surrounding it may split or fall out, resulting in bald patches. This is known as tinea capitis. 

itchy skin

Causes Of Ringworm

Ringworm is caused by three distinct fungi: Trichophyton, Microsporum, and Epidermophyton. It is possible that these fungus can survive in soil for a lengthy period of time as spores. Ringworm can be contracted by humans and animals through direct contact with this soil.

Additionally, the virus can spread via contact with sick animals or humans. The infection is frequently transferred among children and through the sharing of fungus-infected things.

Ringworm is caused by a variety of fungi. Doctors refer to ringworm by a variety of names, depending on the location of the infection on the body:

scalp ringworm
  • Scalp ringworm (tinea capitis) frequently begins as localized scaling on the scalp and progresses to itchy, scaly bald spots. It is especially prevalent in children.
  • Ringworm of the body (tinea corporis) frequently manifests as round ring-shaped areas.
  • Jock itch (tinea cruris) is a type of ringworm infection that affects the skin of the groin, inner thighs, and buttocks. The condition is particularly prevalent in men and adolescent boys.
  • Athlete’s foot (tinea pedis) is a frequent term for a foot ringworm infection. It is usually observed in individuals who go barefoot in public areas where the virus might spread, such as locker rooms, showers, and swimming pools.


Depending on the severity of your ringworm infection, your doctor may prescribe a variety of treatments. Jock itch, athlete’s foot, and body ringworm are all treatable with topical antifungal creams, ointments, gels, or sprays.

Ringworm of the scalp or nails may require oral treatments such as griseofulvin (Gris-PEG) or terbinafine at a prescription level.

Additionally, over-the-counter (OTC) drugs and antifungal skin treatments may be advised. Clotrimazole, miconazole, terbinafine, or other similar chemicals may be present in these products. These antifungal therapies are also available online.

Lifestyle Changes

Wash Bed

Along with prescription and over-the-counter medications, your doctor may advise you to treat your infection at home by:

  • Daily washing of bedding and clothing is recommended during an infection to aid in the disinfection of your surroundings.
  • Carefully dry the affected regions following a bath.
  • Eradicating infection from all affected regions (not treating tinea pedis can lead to recurrence of tinea cruris)

Home Treatments For Ringworm

For many years, before experts discovered antifungal medications, people relied on home cures for ringworm. The majority of evidence supporting the use of these therapies is anecdotal. There is no scientific evidence to recommend their use in lieu of over-the-counter antifungals.

Among these treatments are the following:

  • Apple cider vinegar

To cure ringworm, some people apply apple cider vinegar-soaked cotton balls three times daily to the affected areas.

  • Cocoa butter

Coconut oil is not just used in cooking; it is also applied on the skin to help prevent ringworm infections. Apply coconut oil one to three times daily if you choose to attempt this cure.

  • Turmeric

Turmeric is a spice that can be used in combination with water to create an antifungal paste. Directly apply the paste to your skin and let it dry.

A word of caution regarding home treatments, home cures should not be used in lieu of prescribed antifungal medications. Rather than that, discuss any you wish to try alongside established therapy with your doctor. 

Stages Of Ringworm

When you are infected with ringworm, you will not immediately notice the fungus. It may take up to two weeks for symptoms to manifest. Among the stages you may encounter are the following:

  1. The preliminary stage. You may see a pink or red inflamed area of skin during this stage. Occasionally, it simply appears very dry and scaly – not always indicative of ringworm.
  2. Stage two. You’ll observe that the lesion begins to develop in size during this stage. The rash’s center may resemble healthy skin with a scaly region surrounding it.

Due to the contagious nature of ringworm, you should begin treatment as soon as you discover symptoms. If you do not, it has the potential to spread and flourish.