What is ringworm?

Ringworm is a fungal infection of the skin and the nails caused by approximately 40 different types of fungi. Ringworm can infect the:

  • Feet (athlete’s foot)
  • Groin, inner thighs, or buttocks
  • Scalp
  • Beard
  • Hands
  • Toenails or fingernails
  • Other parts of the body such as the arms or legs

Who is at risk for ringworm?

Ringworm is very common, but some people may be at higher risk for the infection. At risk patients include:

  • People with weakened immune systems
  • People who use public showers or locker rooms
  • Athletes
  • People who wear tight shoes
  • People who experience excessive sweating
  • People who come into contact with animals frequently

What are the symptoms of ringworm?

Symptoms can vary depending on which part of the body ringworm is present. They will usually show 4-14 days after coming into contact with fungi. Symptoms include:

  • Itchy skin
  • Ring-shaped rash
  • Red, cracked skin
  • Hair loss

How is ringworm diagnosed?

Your doctor can usually diagnose ringworm based off of symptoms and by looking at the affected area. Occasionally, a small skin scraping may be looked at under a microscope to look for a fungal culture.

How can I treat ringworm?

Mild cases of ringworm on the skin can be treated with over-the-counter antifungal medications. For more severe cases on scalp, prescription medications need to be taken orally for 1-3 months. If you experience ringworm on the scalp, contact your healthcare provider.

How can I prevent ringworm?

  • Keep skin clean and dry
  • Wear shoes that allow for circulation
  • Use flip flops or shower shoes in gyms, locker rooms, and public showers
  • Clean and trim fingernails and toenails
  • Change socks and underwear daily
  • Do not share personal items with people who have ringworm
  • Wash hands thoroughly after touching animals, especially if they have ringworm
  • If you have athlete’s foot, shower immediately after any physical activity, keep uniforms and equipment clean, and do not share any uniforms or equipment

What should I do if my pet has ringworm?

Ringworm can easily transfer from animals to humans. If you believe your pet has ringworm, take them to the vet for proper diagnoses. Other preventative measures include:

  • Wash hands thoroughly after touching your pet
  • Wear gloves and long sleeves when touching a pet with ringworm, and wash your hands after
  • Vacuum areas of the house where your pet commonly spends time in
  • Do not handle pets if you have a weakened immune system

For more information on ringworm, click here.