Fungal infections are common in routine dermatology practice and they tend to become recurrent even with adequate medications. Read the below article to know more.
Tinea or ringworm is a fungal infection caused by a group of fungus known as dermatophytes.
The name 'ringworm' is a misnomer, and worms do not cause them. The name is due to the ring-like appearance of the rash.
It can involve any body site from head to toe, including nails. Depending on the body site involved, different terminologies are used.
It appears as a red rash with scales which is round in shape. You can observe a lot of red bumps (boils) at the edges, and the center will be clear without much redness or scales. As the disease progresses, many such rings form a large patch of redness, studded with boils, small bumps, and scales.
Tinea is intensely itchy. Tinea on the scalp can be painful when many boils together form an entity called kerion, which is more common in children than adults.
1. Wear dry loose cotton clothes. Try to find inner garments which are 100 % pure cotton. Make use of fans or air conditioners at night to keep the affected part well ventilated.
2. Take a bath twice a day. Always use lukewarm water. Avoid using very hot water. Hot water favors fungal growth in the body. Wash the affected parts with cold water once you are done taking a bath. Always use a fresh dry towel to wipe off water from the body. Make sure skin folds are dry before wearing clothes.
3. Use antifungal dusting powders for your skin folds such as underarms, thigh folds, below breasts, and between the toes.
4. Wash your clothes, towel, and bedspread in hot water and dry them in good sunlight.
5. Eat healthy food, keep your body weight ideal for your height because being overweight or underweight leads to reduced immunity which increases the chances of acquiring a fungal infection.
6. If you have diabetes, check your blood sugar level frequently and make sure your blood sugars are within the normal range because uncontrolled blood sugar is a risk factor for fungal infection.
7. Ask if any of your family members have a similar fungal infection. If so, encourage them to take treatment.
8. Check your pet animals for rashes. If there are any, take them to a veterinary doctor for treatment. Dogs and cats are also sources of infection.
9. Always complete the full course of medications prescribed by your dermatologist. Incomplete treatment can result in the recurrence of fungal infection, which is more resistant to treatment.
1. Do not scratch. Scratching makes the rash worse. Ask your dermatologist to prescribe anti-itching medicine.
2. Do not wear synthetic clothes, tight-fitting jeans that do not allow air to flow through them, and wet inner clothes. Do not wear inners while at home. Just allow air to flow freely through the affected part.
3. Do not share your personal items such as clothes, towels, soap, or comb with your family members or friends.
4. Do not use over-the-counter (OTC) medications for ringworm. Most of these OTC creams contain steroids, which give faster relief from itching, but they make the ringworm spread to a larger area and make the routine treatment insufficient.
5. Do not use home remedies such as garlic paste to get rid of ringworm. This could burn your skin and leave a permanent scar.
Proper and timely medications from a dermatologist and these skincare measures would provide faster relief from symptoms, speedy recovery, and less chance of recurrence.
The following are the measures you can take to treat your ringworm infection faster.
- Apply an antifungal cream as prescribed by a dermatologist.
- Provide adequate ventilation to the wound site by avoiding tight items of clothing.
- Wash bed sheets every day.
- Change your wet underwear and socks frequently.
A ringworm infection has certain typical symptoms, by which you can identify an ongoing infection. They are as follows.
- A ring-shaped area that is scaly in appearance, commonly seen on the buttocks, trunk, arms, and legs.
- This lesion is very itchy most of the time.
- A clear area is often seen inside the ring, along with a scattering of small red bumps.
- As the condition progresses, the lesion starts to become slightly raised, along with expanding rings.
- Overlapping rings are seen in the severe form of the disease.
An untreated ringworm infection is not life-threatening. However, if it is left untreated, the infection might spread to other parts of the body. A person can also become very contagious and spread the disease to someone else. Complication includes hair loss and scarring of the affected area.
Yes, mild cases of ringworm infection resolve by itself within two or three weeks. But, if symptoms persist, it is advised to consult a doctor to avoid further progress of the infection and complications.
The following are specific preventive measures one can take to avoid getting affected by ringworm.
- Always maintain your skin very clean and dry.
- Wear shoes so that air can circulate freely around the feet.
- Avoid walking barefoot in places like public showers.
- Clean your fingernails and toenails and maintain short nails all the time.
- Make sure to change your socks and underwear at least once a day.
Yes, vinegar can help with ringworm infection. Especially apple cider vinegar has strong antifungal properties, which can help to treat the ringworm infection when applied topically to the affected area.
Ringworm infection is contagious as long as lesions are present in your body. It stops spreading 24-48 hours after the treatment is started. When you have an untreated ringworm infection, treat it as soon as possible as it can spread to the people who are nearby you.
Treatment of ringworm infection in private areas such as the groin involves the following.
- Topical antifungal creams or powders.
- Oral antifungal medicine.
In case of recurrence, treatment should be repeated.
The following are the foods you should avoid when you have a ringworm infection.
- Foods that contain sugar, including fruits.
- Refined carbohydrates like white rice and pasta.
- Fermented foods like bread, cheeses, dried fruits, mushrooms,etc.,
No, ringworm infections are not severe when compared to other skin infections. In the majority of the population, it can be effectively treated within a month. However, they are highly contagious and quickly spread. If you are having a problem for a prolonged duration, contact your doctor immediately.
Yes, stress can be a cause of ringworm infection. Stress or alcohol acts as a trigger also, at times, causes a flare-up of the infection. So, if you are diagnosed to be affected with ringworm infection, avoid alcohol consumption, and unnecessary stress.
Yes, saltwater can kill ringworms. This is because it acts as an astringent, which speeds up the healing of wounds and superficial skin infections. It also helps in drying up the rash patches. It should be used by mixing one tablespoon of sea salt with two tablespoons of vinegar. This will form a paste. Later, apply this on your infected skin for ten minutes. This will speed up the recovery from infection.
Generally speaking, moisture always aggravates any infection. But, you can still take a bath by using antifungal soaps when you have a ringworm infection. It is essential to dry your skin properly after a bath. When you follow this measure correctly, it does not cause any infection.
If you wish to treat ringworm permanently, consult a dermatologist. He or she will prescribe an antifungal cream or powder. Continue the treatment until the rash completely disappears. The infection might recur if you stop the treatment.
A properly treated ringworm infection usually heals completely in a four-week course. However, the time can vary in certain patients. The following are the signs of healing.
- Reduce the size of the lesion.
- Erythema resolves.
- Itchiness reduces.
The following are the effective medications to treat a ringworm infection
You should discuss the dosage with the doctor.
The following are certain home remedies to treat a ringworm infection at home.
- Use apple cider vinegar.
- Wash the area frequently with antimicrobial soap and water.
- Use tea tree oil.
- Coconut oil can be utilized because of its antifungal properties.
- Turmeric is an excellent antibiotic, so it can also be used.
However, if the infection does not resolve with these remedies, it is recommended to consult a doctor to avoid unnecessary complications.
Many studies have found that apple cider vinegar has excellent antifungal properties. It is even effective against severe fungal infections caused by Candida. To treat ringworm, the affected person is required to apply apple cider vinegar by soaking it in a cotton wool pad and wipe it gently on the affected area. This should be repeated at least three times a day.
When a woman acquires ringworm during pregnancy, there are certain medications that are safe for both the baby and the mother. However, before starting any medications during pregnancy, it is always important to consult the doctor to avoid any danger to the mother and the child.
If you do not give adequate medical care to your ringworm infection, it might frequently recur, and the infection also spreads to other parts of the body such as the feet, nails, scalp, or beard. There is also a greater likelihood of acquiring fungal skin infections recurrently if present in all family members. Proper treatment is essential to shorten the period of ringworm infection.
When you have a ringworm infection in your foot and soles, the primary measure you should take is proper foot hygiene. This can be achieved using good shoes that aid ventilation, clean socks, and cleansing your foot frequently when you walk in contaminated areas. Antifungal medications are very effective. It has to be always used as prescribed by your doctor.
Last reviewed at:
24 Dec 2021 - 3 min read
Query: Hello doctor,I have ringworm for the past seven months. It comes and goes. I have used many creams tablets. No use. But finally, I found a cream named Valerate-C. It is a very effective cream. If I apply it once at night, it solves the itching problem overnight. The infection also reduces for a week... Read Full »
Query: Hi doctor, I appear to have a tinea infection on my hands. I previously hand one two years ago and symptoms are the same, peeling between fingers, sore and itchy skin, some scaly patches. A doctor here advised Clotrimazole cream and 150 mg of Flucanozole every week for four weeks. That initially wo... Read Full »
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