Health and Life

How Contagious is Ringworm? 4 Best Treatment Options

The skin condition known as ringworm is caused by a fungal infection that is very infectious. Since it can result in a circular rash (formed like a ring), typically red and itchy, it is known as a “ringworm.” Ringworms may affect anyone. The fungus that causes this illness can reside on surfaces, clothing, bedding, towels, and other household objects.

Ringworm has several names. The terminology used in medicine is “dermatophytosis” or “tinea corporis.”

This article will focus on how contagious is ringworm and how to eliminate it.

1. Types of Ringworm

Ringworms may occur almost everywhere on your body and have several names depending on where they are. Infections with ringworm include: –

1.1. Athlete’s Foot (Tinea Pedis)

The skin rash on your feet is known as tinea pedis. Your skin can start to blister, scald, or split. Your feet might occasionally smell terrible.

1.2. Jock Itch (Tinea Cruris)

Tinea cruris is a condition that results in a red, itchy rash in the groin or upper thighs. Blisters occur in certain people.

1.3. Hands (Tinea Manuum)

You can have ringworm on your hands too.

1.4. Beard (Tinea Barbae)

Ringworm occurs on your cheeks, chin, and beard (tinea barbae). The areas can develop a crust or develop pus.

1.5. Fingernails and Toenails (Tinea Unguium)

Image by Daniel_Nebreda / Pixabay / Copyrights 2017

Fingernails and toenails affected with tinea unguium or onychomycosis develop thick, discolored, and malformed nails.

1.6. Scalp Ringworm (Tinea Capitis)

Image by Hans / Pixabay / Copyrights 2012

If left untreated, the bald spots that occur due to the ringworm on your scalp can become troublesome.

1.7. Body Ringworm (Tinea Corporis)

A ring-shaped rash on the body or face is the defining feature of this skin illness. All ages experience it, although youngsters experience it more frequently. In warmer climates, it is more prevalent.

2. Symptoms of Ringworm Infection

  • Ring-shaped patch of scales on the skin.
  • Itchiness
  • A flat, rounded region of irritation.
  • Overlapping rings.
  • Hair loss.
  • Expanding, slightly elevated rings.

3. How it Spreads

Ringworm is a fungus, despite its name. Your skin, hair, and nails are home to this fungus. The fungus can grow out of control too if not treated immediately. Anytime the ringworm fungus gets the chance to come in touch with your skin, you might get this infection.

3.1. Human to Human

Image by geralt / Pixabay / Copyrights 2018

Is Ringworm Contagious? Close contact with the patient frequently results in the spread of ringworm.

3.2. Animal to Human

You might catch ringworms from animals too. Ringworms may be passed from one person to another when they come into touch with a dog or cat. This condition often manifests in cows as well.

3.3. Soil to Human

Ringworm can occasionally be transmitted to people by contact with contaminated soil. Try to limit your contact with soil. Be careful while gardening. Do not walk barefoot. Wear footwear in the fields.

3.4. Object to Human

Ringworm spreads by contact with the surfaces an infected one has touched or brushed against.

4. How Contagious is Ringworm

Ringworms are exceedingly contagious. To avoid spreading it, avoid touching the lesions.

5. When to See a Doctor?

If you have ringworm, see a pharmacist first. They are able to assess whether or not it is necessary for you to visit a doctor.

But, if the ringworm does not go away after using the antifungal prescription that the pharmacist recommended, or if you have an immune system that other drugs or therapies have compromised, you should visit your doctor.

If your rash does not start to clear up after two weeks of taking an over-the-counter antifungal treatment, consult your doctor if the rash worsens and displays indications of infection (pus, swelling or discharge). You might need to take prescription medicine.

6. Diagnosis

Your doctor can determine if you have ringworm by checking your skin and maybe shining a black light on the infected region. The sort of fungus you have may occasionally glow under black light.

They are the ones who can decide whether or not you should go to the doctor. If you are going to have a skin biopsy or a fungal culture, the doctor will take a small sample of your skin and send it out to have it examined for fungus.

Your physician will do a KOH exam by scraping a small area of the affected skin onto a slide and then applying a few drops of potassium hydroxide (KOH) solution to the area. Because the KOH causes normal skin cells to break down, it is much easier to see the fungal components when seen via a microscope.

7. Risk Factors

Ringworm is more likely to affect you if you: –

  • Live in a warm environment.
  • Have close touch with an animal or human that has the disease.
  • Give someone with a fungal illness your clothes, blankets, or towels.
  • Play contact sports.
  • Wear constrictive or tight apparel.
  • Have a weak immunity.

6. Prevention

It is very hard to prevent ringworm. A fungus frequently causes it and can spread even before symptoms show.

  • Keep your skin clean.
  • Avoid wearing tight clothing, including underwear that is too tight. Put on socks before your underwear. It will help in preventing the ringworm from spreading.
  • Put on breathable footwear.
  • Be cautious in baths or locker rooms.
  • Keep your nails clean.
    How Contagious is Ringworm
    Image by moshehar / Pixabay / Copyrights 2018
    Image by moshehar / Pixabay / Copyrights 2018
  • Never exchange your belongings with a patient.
  • Ringworm-affected clothing has to be cleaned in hot water with fungicidal soap.
  • After each usage, thoroughly clean the bathroom sink, bathtub, or pan.
  • It is crucial to treat both your feet and hands if you have ringworm on your hands and athlete’s foot on your feet. You will still have ringworm if you simply treat one region.
  • After a workout, take a shower. Fungi like warm, humid environments. You want to keep the region dry and wash away any sweat.
  • After coming in contact with pets, sanitize your hands.
  • Pets exhibiting signs like hair loss should have a check-up. Use gloves while touching your pet if it has ringworm. You can clean surfaces and pet bedding.
  • If your immune system is compromised, you should avoid coming into contact with animals infected with ringworms.

9. Treatment

The location and severity of the illness will determine how it is treated. 

9.1. OTC Medications

Your doctor may frequently advise an over-the-counter (OTC) medication that you may purchase at the pharmacy.

An OTC antifungal ointment or powder may be a very effective treatment option. The most popular ones are miconazole and clotrimazole (Lotrimin, Mycelex).

9.2. Oral Medications

If you have severe ringworm, your doctor could prescribe you an oral antifungal medicine. Fluconazole and Griseofulvin are two examples of oral antifungal medicines.

9.3. Antifungal Shampoos

The spread of scalp ringworm may be halted with antifungal shampoos, such as ketoconazole. Also, you must take an antifungal drug as directed by your doctor. There are so many antifungal shampoos available in the market nowadays.

9.4. Steroids

Your doctor may prescribe extra medications, such as steroids, to reduce swelling if you have a kerion (a big, painful, swollen lesion), a secondary abscess, or a bacterial infection.

10. Can Ringworm Reappear

Ringworms can indeed return. If you take the right steps to cure it, the ringworm will disappear. Continue the recommended course of therapy until the infection has cleared up.

11. Ringworm VS Eczema

Several other skin disorders, including eczema, can mimic ringworms. Eczema and ringworm both result in red, itchy skin. Eczema is non-contagious, unlike ringworm. Ringworm appears differently, like a ring. To obtain a suitable diagnosis, speak with the doctor.

Suggested reading: Can Sinus Infection Cause Cough: 5 Best Home Remedies for Sinus Infection

12. Final Note

Antifungal drugs can help you eliminate ringworm. Although the course of therapy may be lengthy, it is crucial to adhere to it for the whole duration advised by your healthcare professional.

Ringworms can reappear and become more difficult to treat if therapy is stopped too soon. Consult your healthcare practitioner and get it treated as soon as possible.

Keep all of your dermatologist’s follow-up appointments. With the initial regimen a dermatologist recommends, ringworm frequently goes away. Ringworm can occasionally resist therapy, or individuals may unintentionally take actions that make it less effective. It is recommended to keep follow-up appointments for these reasons.

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