No, despite what its name may imply, having ringworm does not mean there are parasitic creatures squirming around under your skin! Do not lose your head. Instead, follow these steps to prevent ringworm from upsetting your life.
Ringworm is a common fungus that usually appears as a red circle with elevated edges. It is relatively harmless. But without proper treatment, you will itch constantly and your skin will dry, causing flaking and potentially dangerous infections from open sores. And nobody wants that. Here are your best bets for vanquishing these irritating red patches.
Disclaimer: be sure to see your family doctor or visit the hospital if your problems with ringworm persist.
1. Use over the counter ointments and creams.
All pharmacies carry some form of anti-fungal cream. Major brands to look for include Lotrimin, Mycelex, Micatin, and Tinactin. If these aren’t available, anything with Clotrimazole (an anti-fungal agent) will work.
In most cases, these medications will be all that’s needed to clear up your ringworm. Follow the directions on the label, and keep applying for 2-4 weeks, even if the ringworms looks like it has disappeared before then. You do not want this problem to sneak back up on you again! Don’t be afraid to apply liberally, past the raised edges of the ringworm.
If you’re a wrestler, fighter, or any kind of grappling athlete, you should always keep a tube of one of these over-the counter medications handy. Ringworm thrives in warm, damp environments, and spreads by contact. The sweaty and physical nature of these sports provides an ideal breeding ground for fungal infections. Try and keep your exercise gear clean and dry, keeping this in mind.
2. Use prescription medication.
Though a visit to the doctor is rarely needed to treat ringworm, sometimes the over-the-counter stuff doesn’t cut it. These cases usually involve the scalp, where ointments are hard to apply thoroughly.
If you’ve tried the ointments and the ringworm does not clear, schedule an appointment with a doctor and – if indeed it is ringworm – you will be prescribed oral anti-fungal medication. These medications will kill even the worst cases of fungal infection. Always be sure to go over any possible side effects of any medication your doctor suggests for you to try!
3. Try natural remedies.
If you prefer a holistic approach, you may want to try a natural remedy to treat your ringworm. There are many naturally occurring substances said to have anti-fungal properties. The most effective, and easily obtainable, are apple cider vinegar, tea tree oil, and garlic.
Choose one of these and apply to the affected area. You may also cover the treated ringworm with a bandage: if you’re using garlic, you’ll have to peel, chop, and slice a few slivers before bandaging directly to the site.
Application can be repeated several times a day, and should usually be sustained for 2-4 weeks, the same length of time as over-the-counter ointments or creams.
While these natural treatments are not statistically proven to work as well as the medicines you can find in a pharmacy, there are plenty of testimonials advocating for their effectiveness, and there’s no harm in trying a natural cure. The benefit of this option is that it will almost definitely be a more cost effective way to a cure, if money is a concern.
4. Figure out the source.
As suggested, ringworm is a fungal infection that spreads through physical contact. It’s highly contagious and can be transmitted from human to human, animal to human (animals like dogs, for instance, can catch it from soil), and also animal to animal interaction.
Sometimes it’s impossible to identify the source of infection. But remember that ringworm thrives in wet, humid environments. This often means the gym, athletic bags, and sustained contact with another human or animal. If you have pets, make sure they don’t have any visible sores or red patches. You may not see anything obvious, but if you notice scratching or licking in one place consistently, this may be a sign of ringworm.
5. Protect yourself.
Because ringworm is so contagious, remember to be aware of what you’re touching. As long as you’re sticking to the method of treatment you’ve chosen, there’s no harm in covering the site. This will reduce the chance of infecting another person and this will keep you from spreading the fungus to another part of your body.
6. Protect yourself.
Don’t forget to shower immediately after engaging in activities that cause you to sweat, and dry yourself completely. One of the best things you can do to prevent infections is shower and dry thoroughly after activity (especially athletics). Don’t let yourself stay sticky throughout the day.
Wear slippers in the shower. Public showers are notorious for harboring fungus.
Try to wear loose clothing when possible. This will prevent moisture, along with bacteria and fungus, from being trapped on your skin.
Products, like Defense Soap, can help scrub away some of the grime that accumulates with physical activity.
7. Don’t worry.
You might look at an itchy, scaly red patch of skin on your body and think it looks a lot worse than anything like the perfect circle that you see in all the photos. But realize that ringworm can look completely asymmetrical and show up on any part of the body. This doesn’t mean it is any less treatable. Ever heard of athlete’s foot? That’s just ringworm between the toes or on the sole of the foot, and it sounds a touch more harmless than the suggestive ringworm. Jock itch is ringworm in the groin area.
Regardless of where the infection appears, the various treatments described above still apply. Stay consistent with application, and if one doesn’t work, move onto the next. Or, as a last resort, visit a doctor. Follow these steps and ringworm should clear up within a few weeks!