Ringworm: What It Is and How to Treat It


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Despite the name, ringworm is not actually caused by — nor is it in any way related to — worms. Rather, it is the common name given to a fungal infection of the skin.

What Causes Ringworm?

The skin infection most commonly referred to as “ringworm” is actually tinea corporis, meaning, simply, a fungal skin infection that occurs somewhere on the body. Ringworm typically presents as a rash with a raised, irregular border. Although not necessarily circular, this rash tends to have a ring-shaped pattern. The edges of this irregular ring are often raised and somewhat scaly.

How Long Does Ringworm Last?

It is important to treat ringworm promptly, because it is both highly infectious and typically progressive: Without treatment, the rash is likely to continue spreading and enlarging. It will not go away on its own.

Patches of affected skin may appear reddish on light-colored skin. On darker skin, they may appear brown or gray. Scratching or picking at the rash can help transfer the rash to other areas of the body, such as the feet or groin, so it is best to avoid picking at the rash.

Who Is Most Likely to Develop Ringworm?

Developing ringworm is more likely if you live in a hot, humid environment, which encourages the growth of fungi. People who live in dorms, share locker room space, or engage in skin-to-skin contact sports, such as wrestling, are more likely to be infected.

Sharing clothes, toiletries, razors, or (unwashed) towels may also spread the disease. Damp or sweaty feet are more likely to be afflicted with athlete’s foot than feet that are kept dry. You can even get ringworm from an infected animal, simply by petting the animal. The fungi capable of causing ringworm can survive on objects for a very long time, unless these objects (such as combs, phones, or towels) are disinfected.

How Is Ringworm Treated?

Ringworm is treated using anti-fungal medications. The medications come in a variety of forms, including creams, lotions, or even pills. While over-the-counter formulations are available to treat athlete’s foot or jock itch, it may be necessary to treat your infection with prescription medicine to eliminate the infection.

When to Visit PhysicianOne Urgent Care for Ringworm

If you or a family member has the above symptoms or a curious skin rash that won’t seem to clear up, PhysicianOne Urgent Care is here 7 days per week for high-quality urgent care, at a fraction of the cost of the Emergency Room. Contact us at 1.855.349.2828, or stop in today for a convenient, walk-in visit. If you’re looking to save time, find a location near you and check in online today!

Dr. Jeannie Kenkare

Written by Dr. Jeannie Kenkare

Dr. Kenkare is a highly experienced clinician with a background in family medicine. As a founding member of PhysicianOne Urgent Care's parent company Happy Mountains, she is also our Chief Medical Officer. Dr. Kenkare provides guidance and leadership to our health care team, and is responsible for the review of clinical guidelines, decision tools, and outcomes to develop and implement strategies that will improve patient care and clinical quality.

Website: https://www.physicianoneurgentcare.com

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