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Ringworm: Symptoms, Causes, & Treatment Options

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Ringworm: Symptoms, Causes, & Treatment Options

Dermatology | Posted on 09/26/2023 by Dr. Asma Akhlaq


Did you know that a worm doesn’t cause ringworm? We have a misconception that this is the main reason behind ringworm. It is a common and contagious skin infection that appears like a ring-shaped skin plaque that is red and itchy. One can get infected with this problem very easily through close contact with an infected person, animal, or object. Ringworms can be identified by various names depending on which part of the body is affected. It is also known as tinea corporis. It usually affects different body parts such as the face, legs, arms, and torso. The treatment often used to treat this problem is antifungal medical medication and other over-the-counter drugs.

In this blog, you will find a detailed discussion on ringworm, its causes, symptoms, and treatment options. Please note that the information given in the blog is for informative purposes only and is entirely research-based. We do not in any way appreciate overlooking the doctor’s consultation. You can book your appointment with one of the best dermatologists in Jaipur at Rukmani Birla Hospital. They offer the most exceptional patient care and healthcare services.

What is Ringworm?

Ringworm is often an itchy and circular rash having clear skin in the middle caused by a fungal infection. The name is given to this condition because of the way it looks. There is no involvement of a worm when ringworm occurs on any of the body parts. Body ringworm is often linked to athlete’s foot, tinea crusis, and scalp. They usually occur when an individual comes into contact with an infected individual or animal. Usually, mild ringworm can be treated with antifungal medications involving creams for the skin. If the infection is serious, then there might be a need to take antifungal medications for a long time.

What are the types of Ringworm?

Ringworm is known by varied names depending on the body part where it occurs. Hence, it is categorized into different types such as:

  • Athlete’s foot: It is also known as tinea pedis caused by fungal infection. It leads to burning and itchy skin rash between the toes and feet soles. The skin appears to be scaly, and cracky and develops blisters.
  • Jock itch: Also known as tinea cruris, it appears red and causes itchy rash in the groin, rectum, or upper thigh. It also might lead to blisters in some people.
  • Scalp ringworm: It is also called tinea captitis causing red, itchy, and scaly scalp spots on the scalp. If treatment is not considered on time, then it develops bigger leading to permanent problems. 
  • Hands ringworm: Also known as tinea manumm it causes signs on the hand such as palms that are cracked, dry, and look ring-like.
  • Beard: It is also called tinea barbae which causes symptoms on the cheeks, chins, and neck. The patches look like a crust and are filled with pus.
  • Toenails or fingernails: It is also known as tinea unguium or onychomycosis. In this type, the problem affects the nails and causes symptoms like discoloration, thickness, and deformation.

What are Ringworm Symptoms?

Ringworm symptoms might vary depending on its type. Some people might experience them hugely while some might not. However, here are some of the common symptoms of ringworm:

  • Expanded and slightly raised rings 
  • Rings that overlap 
  • A scaly ring-shaped area, specifically on different body parts such as legs, arms, trunk, and buttocks
  • Feeling itching all the time
  • The clear and scaly area inside the ring, the color ranges differently such as from red to white to purple, brown or gray on black and brown skin
  • The ring appears to be flat and round

What are the Ringworm Causes?

Ringworm is a transmissible fungal infection that occurs because of mold-like parasites living on the skin’s outer layer. Here is how it spreads, these pointers reflect the main ringworm causes:

  • Human to human- When a person gets into contact with an infected individual it causes ringworm. 
  • Animal to human-Ringworm can also occur if a human touches an animal with this problem. It can also spread through dogs grooming, or while petting them. However, ringworms are very common in cows. 
  • Object to human- Humans can contract ringworms after getting in touch with the surfaces or objects that are already touched by an infected person or animal such as bedding, linens, clothing, brushes, combs, etc. 
  • Soil to humans- Although it happens rarely, humans can contract the infection when comes in contact with the soil if it is infected. Infection might occur from prolonged touch with the soil that is highly infected. 

How is Ringworm Diagnosed?

Ringworm diagnoses are initiated by a healthcare professional. They might look at the patient’s skin and evaluate the symptoms. They might have to scrape the site so that they can view the skin cells through a microscope. Scales evaluation helps in confirming the ringworm diagnosis. 

What are the options available for ringworm treatment?

Ringworm treatment is often recommended by a healthcare professional depending on its type. There are various over-the-counter options and antifungal medications available that help in treating ringworm. They come in several different forms such as powders, gels, or creams. Usually, ringworms are treated with the use of oral antifungal medication. Here are the options to treat ringworms: 

  • Antifungal creams and powders- This option is recommended in almost every ringworm case. It involves gels, powders, antifungal creams and works fine. Other over-the-counter products are recommended such as tolnaftate, terbinafine, miconazole, etc. If symptoms do not improve, there might be a requirement for another oral antifungal medication prescription from the healthcare provider.
  • Oral medication- The first option to treat ringworms is oral medication in case they are on the scalp and other body parts. These medications are recommended for a period of one to three months. 
  • Antifungal shampoo- It involves options like ketoconazole shampoo as it helps in stopping the infection from spreading on the scalp. It will not assist in curing it, however, may assist in containing the infection. People who are not infected can also use the shampoo to avert the infection from spreading.
  • Home remedies for ringworm- These remedies include options like tea tree or apple cider vinegar. Apple cider vinegar helps in curing inflammation and open sores, whereas tea tree oil benefits in antifungal and antimicrobial properties.
  • Steroid creams- Corticosteroid creams are recommended by a doctor for reducing inflammation, however, they might not help in treating ringworm. So, they are very rarely recommended.


Ringworm is not a pleasant experience for anyone. But there is no need to get apprehensive about this as there are antifungal medications that benefit in getting rid of the fungus caused by ringworm. If you are diagnosed with ringworm, you must know that the treatment might require more time and it is vital to follow your doctor’s instructions. You must ask your dermatologist what you can do to keep this problem from spreading to other body parts and other individuals near you. Make sure to share everything with your doctor so that they can help you in whichever way is possible for them.



How to cure ringworm fast?

The best way to cure ringworm is to make sure to take antifungal medication as recommended, apply a topical antifungal cream, let it breathe, wash bedding regularly, change clothes regularly, and use an antifungal shampoo. 

How to get rid of ringworm permanently?

Antifungal medications are the best way to get rid of ringworm permanently. 

How to stop ringworm from spreading?

It is recommended not to get close to a person who is not infected to stop ringworm from spreading. Some other ways are there as well such as changing clothes daily, and not sharing personal items like clothes, towels, and linens.