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Ringworm Treatment

Ringworm treatment should begin as soon as possible after ringworm is detected.

Topical ointments like Lamisil are used for ringworm treatment. [©Shutterstock, 2010]
©Shutterstock, 2010
Topical ointments like Lamisil are used for ringworm treatment.

Ringworm can affect various body parts and is also known by the alternate names athlete's foot, jock itch, tinea capitis and dermatophytid. Ringworm is caused by a fungus and tends to result in itchy, burning rashes on the affected area. It is known as ringworm because of the appearance of the rash: a roundish area with red, scaly outer edges and normal skin in the middle.

Ringworm can usually be treated at home with over-the-counter remedies. Below are examples of common ringworm treatment for the body (including the feet and groin) and ringworm of the scalp.

Body Ringworm Treatment

For the most part, ringworm of the body (tinea corporis), feet (tinea pedis) or groin (tinea cruris) does not require medical attention, as it can be effectively treated at home. Below are the steps to treating ringworm:

  • Keep the affected area clean and dry. This can be difficult when the foot or groin area is affected, but make an effort to change socks and undergarments frequently and to shower after exercise.
  • Apply topical ointment once or twice daily. Some good choices include Lamisil, Lotrimin, Mycelex and Micatin.
  • During the course of the infection, keep as clean as possible. Wash sheets, clothing and pajamas daily.
  • In the specific case of athlete's foot, apply talcum powder to reduce perspiration and wear sandals or shoes that "breathe" to allow the feet to air out.
  • In the specific case of jock itch, be sure to wash athletic supporters after each use, and try to wear loose-fitting underwear like boxers.

 

If after four weeks of following these instructions the ringworm has not improved, or if the area shows signs of infection like pus, swelling or discharge, contact a health care professional right away.

Scalp Ringworm Treatment

When ringworm affects the scalp (tinea capitis), it causes patches of scaly skin that sometimes become bald spots. It must be treated with medicated shampoo or oral medications to prevent it from spreading over the scalp. A doctor may recommend the following:

 

  • Liquid or tablet form or griseofulvin. Alternatively, Lamisil comes in granule form that can be sprinkled over food. Either type of medication should be taken according to the doctor's instructions.
  • Medicated shampoos like Selsun that contain selenium sulfide. The shampoo should be allowed to sit on the scalp for 10 minutes and can be used every three to four days for a month.

 

Because it tends to be highly contagious, it is important to take further steps to prevent the fungus from spreading to a pet or other household member in addition to treating the ringworm with creams and medications. While ringworm is present, take care not to share personal items like towels, hairbrushes and clothing. Wash hands often in hot, soapy water.

Take cats or dogs to the veterinarian to determine whether they have been infected.

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