Ryan is an experienced health writer helping educate and inform people on all types of important health topics. He lives in Salt Lake City, UT and can be found recreating in the local mountains.
Leann Poston, M.D.
Leann Poston, M.D. earned her medical degree from the Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine. She completed an MBA from Raj Soin College of Business, focusing on healthcare. She is a full-time medical communication writer and educator.
April 19, 2021
Ringworm, while very contagious, is usually harmless. If you have it, you can treat the symptoms of most infections with home remedies like soap, coconut oil, tea tree oil, or oregano oil. Over-the-counter antifungal creams can help clear up the infection.
In more stubborn cases, you may require a prescription-strength anti-fungal medication to eradicate ringworm.
EverydayDr is partnered with PlushCare, a telehealth company that connects patients with exceptional online doctors. PlushCare was just named one of the top startups of 2021 by Forbes, and expertly treats urgent medical issues, ongoing conditions, and everyday care. PlushCare doctors have experience treating ringworm, and can even write you a prescription online. You can book a same-day appointment with PlushCare here.
Despite its common name, ringworm is not a worm. Ringworm is a rash caused by a fungal infection that can appear anywhere on the body. There are many terms ringworm goes by, depending on where the infection is, but medical professionals refer to it all as tinea. Regardless of where it is, ringworm is treatable and curable. There are even effective home remedies for the symptoms of ringworm.
All of these infections, though they present in various ways, are ringworm. They are all contagious, fungal in nature, and treated with antifungal medication.
Take a shower at the gym? Think twice, or at least wear flip-flops. Athlete’s foot is a form of ringworm commonly picked up from walking in shared areas such as showers, gyms, or locker rooms. Scales of skin from an infected person are readily transmissible to others, especially in a moist and warm environment.
“Spread usually occurs through direct contact with an infected person or animal,” states the Oklahoma County Department of Health. “Clothing, bedding, and towels can also become contaminated and spread the infection.” In rare cases, a person may pick up ringworm from walking barefoot in infected soil.
Ringworm is highly contagious and can transmit through direct or indirect skin contact. Person to person, animal to person, both are possible.
Some factors increase the likelihood of contracting ringworm:
There are good home remedies for ringworm. It is a fungal infection, so substances with antifungal properties can be helpful if you identify the infection early enough. These home remedies may also help with symptoms.
If the home remedies for ringworm haven’t cleared up the infection in two weeks, it may be time to look at medication. Over-the-counter, topical antifungals are typically quite effective at treating mild cases of ringworm. You can pick these up at your local pharmacy or grocery store. Be sure to read all directions and apply as recommended.
Without treatment, ringworm typically goes away over a few months. However, it remains highly contagious and can spread to other parts of the body and other people or animals. In rare cases, it may become chronic and recurring, especially in those with compromised immune systems.
If treated early, most cases of ringworm are eradicated within a few weeks. Be sure to treat the condition as contagious during treatment and even a week or two after symptoms have disappeared. All spores must die off before a person is cured.
If the infection hasn’t cleared up in two weeks with over-the-counter antifungal treatment, then make an appointment to see your doctor. They will be able to prescribe a stronger antifungal medication in the form of lotion, ointment, spray, or even oral tablets.
When it comes to highly contagious infections like ringworm, EverydayDr recommends the telehealth service PlushCare. They only hire accredited doctors who graduated from a top-50 U.S. institution. You can make an appointment and see a doctor in as little as 15 minutes.
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