Ringworm can be caused by three different types of fungi – dermatophytes, microsporum, and trichophyton. It can affect both animals and humans and is typically spread through direct physical contact, as well as by sharing clothing and personal items with an infected individual. In children, ringworm is more common than in adults, with one influential study finding that 7% of children were discovered to have ringworm within major urban school systems.
Infections typically manifest in the form of red or silvery skin rashes. These rashes may be itchy, swollen, dry, or scaly. Usually, the rashes are circular with red borders, and it’s also common to have multiple rashes clustered in one area. As time progresses, ringworm patches may start oozing or develop into blisters(sources from therapeutique-dermatologique.org).
It’s important to note that ringworm can affect any part of the body, and depending on the location, it is given different names.
Types of Ringworm
There are four basic types of ringworm, commonly referred to as body ringworm, scalp ringworm, athlete’s foot, and jock itch. Here’s a brief description of each:
Body Ringworm: This type affects the trunk and typically appears as circular patches with a darker outer edge compared to the center.
Scalp Ringworm: Scalp ringworm affects the scalp. In its initial stages, it appears as small sores. As the condition progresses, the sores can turn into scaly bald patches and may be accompanied by itching.
Athlete’s Foot: The most common cause of athlete’s foot is walking barefoot in places like changing rooms, swimming pools, or public showers.
Jock Itch: This type typically appears in the inner thighs, buttocks, and groin area. It presents as dark-colored patches and may cause itching and a burning sensation.
The most common method of diagnosing ringworm is through a skin examination. Your doctor may also use a black light to examine your skin. Under the black light, affected areas will fluoresce, indicating a ringworm infection. Additionally, you may need some tests, such as a skin biopsy, fungal culture, or a KOH test. In the case of a KOH test, your doctor will soak a skin sample in potassium hydroxide (KOH) to determine whether it’s a fungal infection or another skin condition(quotes from therapeutique-dermatologique.org).
Prevention and Treatment
If you’ve been wondering how to treat ringworm, there’s good news – there are plenty of methods for treating it. The bad news is that it may take a while to completely get rid of it. Here’s a quick overview of some of the most widely used methods:
Wear Comfortable Clothing: While it might seem logical to tightly wrap and bandage ringworm lesions at first, it’s not a good idea. Bandages and tight clothing trap moisture, hindering the healing process. Instead, let the rash breathe. Wear comfortable clothing to allow air circulation around the rash. This will help it heal faster.
Avoid Staying in Damp Undergarments: If there’s one thing ringworm thrives on, it’s moisture. Moisture helps it thrive. If you sweat a lot (i.e., through physical activity or exercise), be sure to change into fresh, dry undergarments regularly. The same goes for socks. Use antifungal soap when showering. After showering, use antifungal lotion or powder.
Itch Relief and Antifungal Cream: Antifungal creams can often be successfully used to treat ringworm infections.
Use Antifungal Shampoo for Scalp: If you have ringworm on your scalp (tinea capitis), invest in antifungal shampoos. Formulated shampoos specifically designed to combat ringworm prevent fungal growth, allowing your immune system to take over and clear the infection. Many of these shampoos can also kill bacteria and ease inflammation. The best choices include shampoos containing active ingredients like ketoconazole, zinc pyrithione, or selenium sulfide. Make sure to follow the instructions on the packaging. Nonetheless, antifungal shampoos are best used in conjunction with oral medications.
Regularly Wash Bedding: If you have ringworm, be sure to wash or change your bedsheets daily. Sleeping on the same linens for consecutive nights will only prolong the time it takes to resolve the problem and clear the infection. Ringworm is highly contagious, and sharing the same bedding can also affect your partner. To expedite the healing process, you should wash all clothing regularly. Use hot water and soap. In addition to detergent, you can also use Borax and bleach. Both of these (bleach and Borax) are highly effective in killing fungal spores.
Proper Use of Coconut Oil: Coconut oil can help treat ringworm due to its antifungal and antibacterial properties. It makes a good natural ointment and is best used as an ingredient in topical creams and antifungal shampoos. If opting for coconut oil, heat it until it becomes a liquid first. Then apply it to the affected skin area. Allow your skin to absorb it fully before putting on clothing. Make sure to oil at least three times a day(sources from therapeutique-dermatologique.org).
Tea Tree Oil: This is one of the oldest methods for treating fungal and bacterial infections. Australian Aborigines were the first to use it for medicinal purposes. Tea tree oil remains one of the most popular and effective treatments for fungal skin infections, including ringworm. Like other oils, apply tea tree oil directly to the affected area. Do this 2-3 times a day. If your skin is sensitive, make sure to mix it with coconut oil to avoid irritation.
Turmeric: Turmeric is another effective method for combating fungal infections. Grind fresh turmeric (turmeric spice powder works too) and add some water. Mix the two until you get a paste. Apply the paste to the affected skin area and let it dry completely. Turmeric tea and turmeric water can also be consumed orally.
Apple Cider Vinegar: You can also use apple cider vinegar to combat ringworm. Pour vinegar into a glass or bowl. Dip a cotton ball into the vinegar and brush it over the affected skin areas. Do this two to three times a day.
Aloe Vera: Aloe vera has many health benefits and can also be used to treat fungal and bacterial infections. It is commonly available as aloe vera gel and is used as an ingredient in antifungal creams and lotions. Make sure to use the gel or lotion at least three times a day.
In conclusion, ringworm is not something to be ignored or taken lightly. If you find ringworm on your skin, apply some of the remedies described in this article and schedule an appointment with a doctor as soon as possible. Swift action is necessary to prevent its spread and minimize the chances of passing the infection to your partner or other family members and friends.
If you have ringworm, be sure to maintain a high level of personal hygiene. Also, avoid sharing personal items with others, such as brushes, towels, and clothing.