What Is Ringworm?

Do you or your kids have an itchy, ring-like rash on your body? Ringworm is very common. Find out what it is, how you contract it, and how to get rid of it using over-the-counter treatment.

Sanaz Majd, MD
Episode #212

Most often I see one ringworm spot on the skin, perhaps two or three. But it is not one of those rashes that spreads over the entire body, like allergic reactions do. It is usually itchy, but perhaps not enough to drive you to crawl out of your skin, like another super itchy rash I’ve discussed called scabies

Treatment of Ringworm

Unfortunately, fungal infections are one of the most stubborn to treat. Cold/flu viruses often self-resolve within a week or two, and many bacteria resolve with a short course of antibiotics (if it truly is bacterial). But a fungus can take weeks, even a month or two, to completely resolve. 

The recommended treatment of choice happens to be over-the-counter and easy to access without a prescription—antifungal creams like clotrimazole and miconazole used 2-3 times daily will clear up the fungus typically within a month. 

Oral prescription medications can also be considered for those who fail therapy with the antifungal creams. However, they do carry a small risk of liver toxicity, and therefore, not always the agent of choice.

For those with persistent ringworm infection despite treatment, or those with extensive disease, it’s vital to think about:

1.  An immune disorder or condition that suppresses the immune system: HIV, Diabetes, chronic corticosteroid therapy

2.   Conditions with similar-appearing rashes:  Lupus, Eczema, Psoriasis

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Please note that all content here is strictly for informational purposes only.  This content does not substitute any medical advice, and does not replace any medical judgment or reasoning by your own personal health provider.  Please always seek a licensed physician in your area regarding all health related questions and issues.


About the Author

Sanaz Majd, MD

Dr. Sanaz Majd, a board-certified Family Medicine physician who graduated from Drexel University College of Medicine in Philadelphia. She sees everything from pediatrics to geriatrics, but her special interests are women's health and patient education. She also loves to teach, and has been doing so since her college days.

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