Ringworm is a type of fungal infection that affects the skin. Ringworm is also referred to as 'tinea' and is in fact part of large group of fungal infections including jock itch (tinea cruris) and athlete's foot (tinea pedis). Medically, ringworm is also referred to as dermatophytosis as it is caused by a group of fungi referred to as dermatophytes.

A ringworm infection may lead to the appearance of a circular ring like patch on the skin, but while this is the most distinctive feature of a ringworm infection it is not necessarily always apparent. It should also be noted that not all round patches that you notice are ringworm. Some fungi lead to round patches on the skin while others do not. It must be kept in mind that all round patches may not be ringworm. In most cases the condition is easy to identify, but if you are even a little unsure it would be best to get a medical diagnosis immediately. Your doctor will make a diagnosis based on a physical examination and analysis of a skin sample. This will help to treat the condition effectively. Ringworm can develop at any age, but it tends to occur more commonly in children. It is a contagious infection that spreads through direct contact with the infected area. Ringworm can also spread by sharing personal items such as clothing, combs and towels.

Symptoms of Ringworm

Ringworm leads to a ring shaped spot on the body. This ring may spread as the infection progresses. In severe cases the skin may develop blisters. Ringworm may be restricted to many patches or just a single one. Ringworm may occur on the scalp, body, foot, groin and nails. Ringworm that affects the scalp is known as tinea capitis and its symptoms could include:

  • Itching
  • Scaling
  • Soreness
  • Hair loss in patches
  • Sores which fill with pus
  • Crusting

In some severe cases, a keroin may develop. This is a large area of inflammation filled with pus. It may be accompanied by symptoms such as swollen lymph nodes and fever.

Body ringworm or tinea corporis could cause symptoms like:

  • Red rash in the shape of a ring
  • Redness
  • Skin irritation

In severe cases of ringworm on the body, the ring may enlarge or multiple rings may join together. The rings may be slightly raised and itchy. There may also be blistering and pus formation around the rings.

The same fungi that are responsible for ringworm infections can also cause other types of fungal infections like jock itch, athlete's foot and toenail fungus. If not treated appropriately and proper practices of hygiene are not followed an infection of ringworm on the torso could easily spread to the groin area resulting in jock itch. Likewise, the infection could also spread to the feet resulting in athlete's foot. The symptoms of ringworm can be severely exacerbated by external factors such as exposure to irritants or from friction that may result when wearing tight clothing.

Causes of Ringworm

Ringworm spreads through various means of contact. Some of the most common ringworm causes include:

  • Most cases of ringworm spread through direct skin-to-skin contact with someone who is infected. If you have an infection on your feet, it can also spread to other parts of the body due to contact with infected flakes of the skin.
  • Ringworm may also spread through contact with animals if you spend time grooming or petting them, or simply have them for company for extended periods In animals, ringworm appears as a patch of skin without any fur. Cats, dogs, goats, horses and pigs may be carriers of the infection.
  • The infection may sometimes spread when you touch an object that has been handled by an infected person or animal. This may include hairbrushes, clothes, telephones and door knobs.
  • In rare cases, contact with infected soil can cause the ringworm to spread. If there are inadequate levels of nutrients in the soil, the fungus can grow and multiply. Ringworm can only spread to humans if there is prolonged contact with the infected soil.
  • The fungi that cause ringworm can survive in moist environments, which is why you need to be particularly cautious when frequenting public swimming pools and locker rooms.

Some people are at a higher risk of developing ringworm. These include:

  • Individuals with skin conditions such as eczema
  • Ringworm commonly occurs in children before the age of puberty
  • Boys seem to be at a higher risk for ringworm
  • Some individuals have a genetic predisposition to the infection

Remedies for Ringworms

Ringworm is not a difficult condition to diagnose and in most cases you would be able to recognize the condition yourself. This may not always be the case however, but it is fairly easy for a doctor to diagnose and treat. Normally a diagnosis can be made purely based on appearance of the symptoms, but in rare cases your doctor may need to send a skin sample for testing. The treatment for ringworm generally involves the use of antifungal medications like topical ointments or creams. Oral medications are prescribed for more resilient infections and when the infection affects the scalp or nails. Topical antifungal ointments are also available over the counter and generally contain terbinafine. Pharmaceutical medications are most effective in the treatment of ringworm, but if you wish to you can also try using some alternative treatments.

Some popular home remedies for ringworm include:

  • Tea tree oil is often touted as an effective remedy for various fungal infections, from athlete’s foot to ringworm. Several studies have been conducted to verify these claims and most results this far are encouraging.
  • Honey has long been hailed as a natural cure for a variety of ailments and in the case of ringworm treatment this support comes from scientific sources. According to some researchers honey may in fact have a role to play in the treatment of ringworm infections. The findings from one such study showed that the mixture of honey, olive oil and beeswax could help to treat ringworm on the body.
  • According to some natural health enthusiasts garlic extract can also be used to treat ringworm. If garlic does in fact help in the treatment of fungal infections its healing properties may be attributed a compound present in garlic called 'ajoene'.

Diet for Ringworm

There is no special diet recommended for the treatment of ringworm as the condition has no known dietary causes. If you wish to make changes to your diet however it would be best to simply make sure you follow a well balanced diet that includes foods from all the major food groups. This is important as your body requires an adequate supply of all essential nutrients for the immune system to function effectively. As in the case of any infection, your recovery and the outcome are mainly determined by your immune function.

Suggestions for Ringworm

In addition to conventional treatment or home remedies it may also help to take certain steps to ensure that the infection resolves and does not spread:

  • Any area of skin that is affected or susceptible to infection, such as skin folds and the groins or region between the toes, should be washed thoroughly and dried well.
  • Avoid wearing fitting clothes over the affected area, whether the infection is on your torso or on the extremities. Also, make it a point to change your clothing daily.
  • Make it a point to wash all items of clothing and bed linen regularly and separately.
  • Do not share combs, hair brushes or any kind of headgear.


  1. Nenoff P, Haustein UF, Brandt W. Antifungal activity of the essential oil of Melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree oil) against pathogenic fungi in vitro. Skin Pharmacol. 1996;9(6):388-94. PubMed PMID: 9055360.
  2. Al-Waili NS. An alternative treatment for pityriasis versicolor, tinea cruris, tinea corporis and tinea faciei with topical application of honey, olive oil and beeswax mixture: an open pilot study. Complement Ther Med. 2004 Mar;12(1):45-7. PubMed PMID: 15130571.

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39 Ringworm remedies suggested by our users
Apple Cider Vinegar
suggested by Miss Ty on Saturday, February 16, 2008

If you know what the start of it looks like before it gets out of hand. do the the following remedy. Get a beer cap and pour apple cider vinegar in the cap. Place an old penny in the cap and let it sit overnight. You will see green fungus..rub the penny on the tiny spot and it will go away in 2 days. Repeat twice in a row if the need be.

Cure for Ringworm
suggested by Stacy on Monday, January 21, 2008

I started to get a little patch of ringworm from my cat. I put minced garlic on the spot for about 5 minutes and then rinsed it off. It will burn a bit. The next day the site was red but went away quickly in about 2-3 days. It was completely gone and didn't come back.

Pickle Juice
suggested by Dolores on Friday, December 14, 2007

Apply some pickle juice with a cotton ball till it clear it completely.

Brown Residue
suggested by Alan on Sunday, July 29, 2007

Use regular notebook paper. 3 sheets are usually sufficient. Burn the paper in a plate, discard ashes and scrape up the brown residue while it is still warm and rub into affected area. This has worked for me on two different occasions over the past 50 years.

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