Ringworm, a fungus that causes an infection on the skin, has nothing to do with worms. Ringworm can be on the body, scalp, groin (jock itch) or feet (athlete’s foot). Children tend to get ringworm more often than adults do. It is contagious. People get it from skin-to-skin contact, coming into contact with contaminated objects or from pets, particularly cats.
Before you can treat ringworm, you need to identify it. Symptoms of ringworm are red, raised scaly patches that itch and may ooze. The patches often have defined edges, with normal skin in the center. Ringworm often, but not always, literally looks like a ring. If ringworm is on the scalp, bald patches occur. If it is on the nails, they become thick and discolored.
Normally, you can treat ringworm without having to see a doctor, according to Medline Plus. It takes about four weeks to see results. You need to keep your skin clean and dry. Ringworm thrives in warm, moist areas. Apply over-the-counter antifungal products that contain miconazole or clotrimazole. Wash clothing, pajamas and sheets every day while the ringworm is active. For ringworm on the scalp, a medicated shampoo that contains selenium sulfide may kill the ringworm.
Treating Severe Ringworm
If the ringworm is not improving after treatment, you should see a doctor. She may prescribe antifungal pills, particularly if hair is infected. Your doctor may also prescribe antifungal medications that contain ketoconazole, which is stronger than OTC products.
Avoid touching ringworm on another person, and avoid petting the bald spot of an animal. When you are in a locker room or at a public pool, wear flip-flops. Shower after playing contact sports. Dry yourself completely after your shower, drying your feet last. Avoid sharing towels with other people. Wash your hands after petting animals.
If you child has ringworm, you can send him to school or day care if you are treating him for ringworm, according to WebMD. The ringworm might start to clear up as soon as you begin treatment. But, use the medicine exactly as the label says. Otherwise, the ringworm could come back. Normally, you will treat ringworm for two to four weeks.
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