Smiling woman in white sweater happy after Canesten ringworm treatment

Facts about ringworm

Find out what ringworm is, what causes it, how is ringworm spread and who can get it. Learn about common ringworm symptoms, ringworm treatment and prevention.

What is ringworm?

Firstly and fortunately, ringworm has nothing to do with worms. It is caused by a group of fungi called dermatophytes that are responsible for many similar fungal skin infections. Medically known as tinea corporis, ringworm is a fungal infection of the top layer of your skin. It normally shows up as a red or silver rash that can be scaly, dry, swollen or itchy. The lesion caused by this infection resembles a worm in the shape of a ring – hence the name. The rings usually spread outwards as they progress, while the center may heal and go back to a normal color. Ringworm can appear anywhere on the body, including the scalp (tinea capitis), groin (jock itch) or foot (athlete’s foot). Ringworm on the face or scalp may lead to patchy hair loss.

How does ringworm spread?

Ringworm is contagious, and you can catch it through close contact with contaminated objects like bedsheets, combs or towels, an infected person, animal or – in rare case – through infected soil. Ringworm can also be spread from and to different parts of your body. The infection is commonly spread among children, and it also occurs in people who own cats and dogs. Animals can catch ringworm and pass it to humans through touch.

Who can get ringworm?

The fungi responsible for ringworm can easily enter the top layer of your skin if it becomes soft and wet from prolonged water exposure, or if you have minor injuries or abrasions. You are also more at risk if you use public showers or swimming pools, as fungi thrive in moist and warm environments. You can also catch ringworm if you share hairbrushes or clothes with an infected person.

Ringworm symptoms

Ringworm symptoms aren’t always the same and vary depending on how severe your infection is. They can also change depending on the infected part of your body. You should be aware that you may not notice ringworm right away.

You may have ringworm if you notice:

  • Round patches of skin with a red raised edge and a clearer center .

  • Scaly and itchy skin.

  • Very red and highly with scaling at the edge of the rash (inflammation).

  • Raised and blistered skin (this is a symptom of a more severe ringworm infection).

  • Multiple rings (this is a symptom of a severe infection),

  • Inflamed pus-filled sores (this is a symptom of a severe infection).

Smiling young woman with dark hair wearing red shirt and denim jacket, happy after Canesten ringworm treatment

Ringworm treatment

It’s best to treat ringworm as soon as possible because the infection might cause complications. First of all, if untreated, ringworm can spread to other areas of the body. Secondly, you might put others at risk of catching the infection. Thirdly, ringworm may cause you other unpleasant complications like hair loss, scarring and nail deformities.

Because ringworm of the skin is a fungal infection, you should consider anti-fungal medicine as the best treatment for it. You can choose a cream or a spray depending on where the rash shows up. Ringworm treatment with Canesten antifungal creams should be continued for 2 weeks after symptoms disappear, to avoid recurrence.

Remember it is important to complete the whole course for effective treatment, even if your symptoms go away and it looks like the infection is clearing up. 

When to see a doctor? 

You should see a doctor if ringworm hasn’t improved after using anti-fungal medicine for seven days. You should also consider seeing a doctor if you have ringworm on your scalp or when you have a weakened immune system. 

When you are pregnant or elderly, a doctor can advise you if you can use anti-fungal medicine or recommend alternative treatment. 

Ringworm prevention

Ringworm is difficult to prevent because the fungus causing it is both very common and contagious. However, you can reduce the risk of being infected or spreading ringworm to others if you practice healthy and hygienic behavior. Here are some helpful tips:

  • Wash your hands regularly, especially after having contact with animals,

  • Keep common areas clean, disinfect and clean pet living areas,

  • Avoid touching, rubbing or scratching the infected areas to prevent the infection from spreading to other areas of the body,

  • Avoid using other people’s clothes, towels, brushes and don’t share your belongings with other people if you have ringworm,

  • Wear flip-flops if showering or walking in communal areas,
  • If you or someone close to you is suffering from a ringworm infection, educate them on the risk of ringworm including what it is, what to watch for and how to avoid it.

  • Change your underwear after swimming or working out.