Ringworm is a fungal infection that causes a round, scaly rash on the skin. It thrives in warm, moist areas and you can get it by sharing towels, walking barefoot at a public pool, or by touching an infected person or animal. It’s a contagious, pesky rash that’s itchy and irritating, but there are a number of ways to prevent and treat ringworm. Take a look at our best tips on how to get rid of ringworm with home treatments and remedies.
What is Ringworm?
Ringworm is a contagious fungal infection that causes a ring-shaped pattern on your skin. Contrary to its name, the infection is not in fact caused by a worm- it resembles a worm in the shape of a ring, which is how it got its name. You can get ringworm anywhere on your skin, and it can spread from one area of your body to another. Common places to get ringworm are your feet (also known as athlete’s foot), hands, nails, groin, scalp and beard.
What Causes Ringworm?
Ringworm is caused by common mold-like parasites that live on the cells of the outer layer of your skin. Certain types of fungi cause ringworm, and these fungi thrive where it’s warm and humid. Ringworm is common in tropical areas and during hot, humid summers, and it also flourishes in warm, moist locker rooms and indoor pools. Ringworm can be spread human to human, animal to human, object to human and in rare cases, soil to human. You’re at an increased risk of infection if you:
- Live in a warm climate
- Have close contact with an infected person or animal
- Share clothing, bedding or towels with someone who has a fungal infection
- Participate in sports that feature skin-to-skin contact
- Wear tight or restrictive clothing
- Have a weak immune system
- Are obese
- Have diabetes
- Use a locker room or pool and don’t wash and dry your feet well before putting shoes on
What Are the Symptoms of Ringworm?
- Ring-shaped rash
- Red, scaly, cracked skin
- A round, flat patch of itchy skin
- Patches that resemble a ring with deeper colour on the outside
- Patches with edges that are defined and raised
- Hair loss
How to Prevent Ringworm
- Keep your skin dry and clean
- Wash your hands with soap and warm water regularly- especially after contact with animals
- Avoid sharing personal items like towels, razors, hats and combs
- Wear flip flops at the pool and in public showers and locker rooms
- If you suspect your pet has ringworm, bring them to the vet as soon as possible to get them checked
- Shower immediately after playing sports or working out and dry off completely since fungi thrive in warm, moist areas
- Change your socks and underwear daily
- Wash your sports gear and workout clothes regularly
How to Get Rid of Ringworm
1. Apply An Anti-fungal
Over-the-counter anti-fungals will typically treat ringworm, killing the fungus and promoting healing. Clean the rash, then apply a thin layer of anti-fungal medication to the affected area two to three times per day (or as directed by the package). Make sure the treatment reaches around the border of the rash by a few centimetres and allow the medication to absorb into the skin.
2. Keep the Area Dry and Clean
It’s important to keep the affected area dry and clean as ringworm thrives in warm, moist areas. Wash the affected area and dry it with a clean towel. Make sure to use another clean towel to clean the other parts of your body. Before using these towels again, wash them in hot water with detergent.
3. Let It Air Out
When possible, it’s best to allow the area to breathe rather than covering it in a bandage. Bandaging the rash locks in moisture and slows the healing process. Wear loose, breathable clothes to speed healing and prevent spreading the rash to other people.
4. Be Careful Not to Spread It
Ringworm is super contagious, and you’ll want to avoid spreading it to other areas of your body. If you touch the affected area, make sure to wash your hands thoroughly before touching another part of your body. Touching or scratching the area with ringworm and then touching another area can spread the infection from one part of the body to another, so be super cautious while you have the infection.
5. Wash Bedding Daily
Since ringworm is so contagious, you should wash your bedding daily to help get rid of the infection and stop it from spreading. If you sleep on the same sheets every night, it can take longer for the ringworm to heal- it can spread to other parts of your body and also infect your partner. Use hot water and detergent when washing your bedding.
6. Use Anti-fungal Shampoo
If you have ringworm on your scalp, wash your hair with an over-the-counter medicated anti-fungal shampoo. This will kill bacteria and fungus on the scalp and relieve inflammation. You’ll know you have a scalp infection if you notice symptoms like severe itching, patches of hair loss, scalp boils and severe dandruff.
7. Disinfect/Throw Out Infected Objects
The fungi that causes ringworm survives for a long time, so you’ll want to thoroughly clean or throw out any infected items to avoid reinfecting yourself. Wash any clothes, towels and bedding you used in hot, soapy water. If you have ringworm on your foot (athlete’s foot), it’s best to toss all shoes and other footwear that you wore before you started treatment.
8. Call a Dermatologist
If your ringworm doesn’t clear up after two weeks of treatment with anti-fungal cream, get in touch with your dermatologist to help heal the rash. You’ll also want to contact them if your ringworm seems to be spreading, even after treatment, or if you have signs of infection such as increased pain, swelling, warmth or redness, puss coming out from the rash, or a fever.
Ringworm can be a serious pain to deal with, but in most cases it can be treated at home. Make sure to take extra precaution not to spread the infection by following these tips!
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