First things first: Ringworm has nothing to do with worms. Still, it’s not a fun condition to deal with.
If you’ve been diagnosed with ringworm, rest assured that we can treat it effectively, and the sooner you care for it, the better. You can also take steps to lower your risk of additional infections in the future.
At Northstar Dermatology in Richland Hills, Texas, our expert team of board-certified dermatologists treats a broad range of skin conditions, including ringworm. Here, we explore the basics of this common ailment, including ways to do away with it for good.
Ringworm happens when you’re infected by a fungus that eats a protein found in your skin, hair, and nails known as keratin. There are numerous types of ringworm, including:
- Scalp ringworm
- Body ringworm
- Groin infections, known as jock itch
- Athlete’s foot
- Ringworm in the beard or fingernail area
While the location of ringworm varies, all of these types can cause similar symptoms, such as patches of scaly skin, ring-like rashes, swollen lumps, itchy skin, puss-filled sores, and tiredness.
When you develop symptoms in your groin area, you may notice that fitted clothing and exercise make them worse. With scalp ringworm, you may notice mild hair loss.
Reasons you may have ringworm
Ringworm is common, affecting up to 25% of the world’s population at some point. And over 40 species of fungi can bring it on. While anyone can develop ringworm, factors that increase your risk include:
- Being age 14 or younger
- Being exposed to someone who has ringworm or to items they’ve used
- Having a weakened immune system
- Living in a warm, humid climate
- Playing contact sports
- Wearing tight clothing
Getting rid of ringworm
Treatment for ringworm works by targeting the harmful fungus. Depending on the severity and location of your symptoms, our team at Northstar Dermatology may recommend an over-the-counter or prescription antifungal lotion, cream, or ointment.
For especially extensive or severe symptoms, you may benefit from an antifungal oral medication.
To prevent reinfection, follow your treatment for as long as prescribed and keep the affected area clean and dry. Because ringworm fungi can linger, you should also use hot, soapy water to wash all bedding, clothing, and towels that you use during your infection.
To lower your risk of future ringworm infections, make a habit of changing your clothes every day, showering after exercise, and wearing flip-flops or shoes in public locker rooms.