Ringworm is a skin infection caused by mold that lives on the dead tissues of skin, hair and nails. It forms an itchy, ring-shaped patch that may turn into multiple rings. Because ringworm is highly contagious and able to spread by skin-to-skin contact, treating it safely and quickly is ideal.
Treating ringworm depends on where the infection is located and how bad it is. If you suspect you or someone in your household is infected with ringworm, here’s what you need to know.
Prevent the ringworm from spreading
If one person in the home has ringworm, it’s highly possible that person will spread the infection to others. In order to prevent ringworm from spreading, take the following precautions:
- Wash your hands after touching the infected area
- Thoroughly clean clothing, shoes, blankets, etc. that have come into contact with the infected area
- Keep the infected area clean and dry
- Treat the infected area as quickly as possible
- Do not share towels, blankets, etc., as this can spread the infection
- As a precaution, everyone in the household should be treated for ringworm even if symptoms have not surfaced yet because ringworm has a long incubation period
There are several ways to treat antifungal infections naturally. Usually, it can take 2-4 weeks for ringworm symptoms to resolve, which is why many choose to have ringworm diagnosed and take medication over going the natural route. However, if you choose to self-medicate your infection, here are some methods to try:
- Create a garlic paste using crushed garlic cloves and olive or coconut oil. Apply a thin layer of the paste to the infected area, cover with gauze, and let sit for up to 2 hours before rinsing. Repeat twice daily until symptoms resolve.
- Soak a cotton wool pad in apple cider vinegar and apply it to the infected area up to 3 times daily.
- Use turmeric’s anti-inflammatory properties internally and/or externally. Take turmeric supplements or drink turmeric tea daily. You may also mix turmeric with a small amount of water or coconut oil to form a paste and apply it to the skin.
- Mix 12 drops of tea tree essential oil with 1 ounce of coconut oil and apply to the skin up to 3 times daily.
If symptoms do not resolve within two weeks, a doctor can recommend a stronger treatment that will clear the infection quickly.
Visit your primary care doctor or urgent care
If home remedies are unsuccessful or you want an expert to confirm you have ringworm, make an appointment with your primary care doctor or visit an urgent care center. Your doctor may recommend antifungal OTC medications or special soaps/lotions/shampoos, depending on the location of the infection. Antibiotics will not work on ringworm because ringworm is caused by fungus, not bacteria. You may need to be on the medication for several weeks to fully get rid of the infection. In severe cases, your doctor may write a prescription.
In need of a primary care doctor? MyHealthKC can help you find the right doctor for you. All you have to do is answer a few questions and we’ll show you a list of providers in your area who match with your results. Find other tips to treat conditions at home, like How to Treat a Bee Sting and How to Manage Childhood Eczema.