Diagnosis, Treatment and Prevention of Ringworm

Ringworm, also known as dermatophytosis or tinea, is a fungal infection of the skin. Several types of contagious fungal infections occurs on the top layer of the skin, scalp, and nails.

Updated: January 17, 2018

Ringworm, also known as dermatophytosis or tinea, is a fungal infection of the skin. Several types of contagious fungal infections occurs on the top layer of the skin, scalp, and nails.
The infection is caused by a fungus and not a worm.

Diagnosing Ringworm:

Diagnosis of ringworm or groin infection can be done after examining the affected area and asking the patient about their medical history and symptoms. This can be done using a black light to view your skin in the affected area. The fungus will glow under black light. If you are infected, the areas of the skin where fungus is located will glow. Certain tests can be done to confirm the diagnosis of ringworm. These include:

Skin Biopsy or Fungal Culture:

A sample of your skin or discharge from a blister can be taken and send it to a lab to test it for the presence of fungus.

KOH exam:

A small area of infected skin will be scrape off and place it in potassium hydroxide (KOH). The KOH destroys normal cells keeping the fungal cells untouched which can be easily identified under a microscope. The skin problem could be due to some other disorder, such as psoriasis.

Treatment for ringworm:

Treatment depends on the type of ringworm:

Scalp ringworm treatment:

Oral antifungals are the most common treatments for scalp ringworm. However, the choice of medication will depend on the type of fungi causing ring worm. Oral medications such as ketoconazole, griseofulvin, or terbinafine are used for this type of ring worm. Terbinafine may include diarrhea and nausea. People with a history of liver disease should not take terbinafine. Griseofulvin may include headache, indigestion and nausea.  Anti-fungal shampoos help prevent the spread of ringworm and may speed up recovery, but they do not cure it.

Skin ringworm and groin infections treatment:

OTC anti-fungal creams are used to treat this type of ring worm. These products may contain clotrimazole, miconazole, terbinafine, or other related ingredients. Jock itch, athlete’s foot, and ringworm of the body can all be treated with topical medications, such as antifungal creams, ointments, gels or sprays. Ringworm can be cured in two to four weeks with skin medications. Antifungal pills are recommended to clear up the infection if you are experiencing severe dermatophytosis that is not responding to over-the-counter treatments or treatment at home.

Taking care at Home:

You should take care for your infection at home in addition to prescription and over-the-counter medication. These include:

  • avoid clothing that irritates the infected area
  • if you are unable to avoid clothing that irritates the area, cover it with a bandage
  • wash bedding and clothes daily during an infection to help disinfect your surroundings
  • clean and dry your skin regularly
  • You may also develop a staph or strep infection of the skin if you have been scratching your skin frequently due to the infection. In such cases antibiotics can be used to treat this bacterial infection as you continue your treatment for the ringworm.

Preventing Ringworm:

The following things has to be taken care to prevent spreading of ringworm:

  • Wash hands regularly and thoroughly with soap.
  • Everyone in the house should check themselves for signs of ringworm.
  • Do not share combs, hairbrushes, clothing, bed linen, towels, or footwear.
  • Do not scratch affected areas as this increases the risk of spreading the infection.
  • Try to avoid excessive sweating.
  • Avoid walking around the house with bare feet.
  • Wash clothes in hot water with fungicidal soap.
  • Wear light, loose clothing, especially if the weather is warm.
  • If the pet is the source of the infection, it will need to be taken to the veterinary surgeon.


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