iCliniq logo

Ask a Doctor Online Now

HomeHealth articlesfungal infectionWhat Is Ringworm Infection?

Ringworm Infections

Verified dataVerified data
Ringworm Infections

4 min read


Ringworm infection is an infection caused by mold-like parasites present on the skin. Read below to know more.

Written by

Dr. Vinay Kumar

Medically reviewed by

Dr. K. Shobana

Published At September 9, 2015
Reviewed AtApril 1, 2024

What Is Ringworm Infection?

Ringworm is an infection caused by a fungus that lives on the cells present on the outer layer of the skin. It can also live on household items such as clothing, towels, and bedding. Ringworm has many names given based on the infection affecting the location of the body. Ringworm is otherwise known as tinea or dermatophytosis. Areas of the body that can be affected by ringworm are:

  • Feet.

  • Groin, inner thighs, or buttocks.

  • Scalp.

  • Beard.

  • Hands.

  • Toenails or fingernails.

  • Other parts of the body, such as arms or legs.

Approximately 40 different species of fungi cause ringworm. The fungi causing ringworm infection are Trichophyton, Microsporum, and Epidermophyton. Ringworms that affect the feet are known as tinea pedis or athlete’s foot. Ringworms affecting the groin, inner thighs, or buttocks are called tinea cruris or jock itch. Ringworms causing infection in the hands are referred to as the tinea manuum.

Ringworm affecting

  • The scalp is known as tinea capitis.

  • The beard is known as tinea barbae.

  • The fingernails or toenails are known as onychomycosis.

  • Other parts of the body are known as tinea corporis.

What Are the Symptoms of Ringworm Infections?

Ringworm can affect the skin or almost any body part, including fingernails and toenails. The symptoms of ringworm vary based on the part of the body infected. However, ringworm infection generally causes itchy skin, ring-shaped rash, red and scaly cracked skin, and hair loss. Symptoms start to appear within four to 14 days after the skin contacts the fungus that causes ringworm infections.

What Are the Causative Factors of Ring Worm?

  • Human to Human: Ringworms usually spread through direct skin-to-skin contact with the affected individual.

  • Animal to Human: Ringworms can spread from an infected animal to a human.

  • Object to Human: A person can get infected by touching an object or place in contact with an infected person or animal.

  • Soil to Human: In rare cases, ringworms can spread from infected soil to humans.

What Are the General Facts About Ringworm Infections?

  1. Ringworm infection affects people of all age groups and has a worldwide distribution.

  2. It is contagious as it can quickly spread from one person to another. It can also spread by contact with infected animals and soil.

  3. Once acquired by a person, the same individual can become a source of autoinfection to other body areas, nails, and hair.

  4. Ringworm infections commonly occur in tropical regions (hot and humid environments), the obese, diabetics, persons on medications that lower one’s resistance to infections (like steroids, anticancer treatment, debilitating conditions), and those living under unhygienic conditions.

  5. It is possible to prevent this infection from spreading further. Several measures help in early recovery and are performed at an individual level.

How Is Ringworm Infection Diagnosed?

The doctor might be able to diagnose ringworm infection simply by looking at it. The doctor may also take skin scrapings from the affected area to be examined under a microscope.

How to Prevent and Cope With Ringworm Infections?

  1. Please be careful if one falls into one of the following categories: Overweight, obese, diabetic, hot and humid climate or working conditions (athletes, sportspersons, laundry workers, agriculture, animal handling, gardening, working near furnaces, swimming pool staff, sewer workers, cooking and dishwashing), treatment with medication that alters the normal flora of body like antibiotics or steroids, AIDS, malignancy, malnutrition.

  2. If one is obese or overweight, one needs to consider weight control seriously. Please consult the treating physician if one is on medication that lowers body resistance. In some occupational cases where the infections are recurrent, it may be advisable to change the profession.

  3. One needs to teach the habits of thoroughly cleaning and drying infection-prone areas during and after every bath and immersion of the part in water. Pay more attention to areas of the body at risk of fungal infection and treat the same.

  4. The undergarments that one wears should be well-fitting but not too tight. These should allow ventilation of air. If the areas tend to sweat profusely, one needs to dry the area several times a day with a gauze piece or absorbent tissue paper. If required, a hairdryer or a fan can be employed until the area becomes dry and one gets ready after the bath.

  5. Abstain from heavy exercise or strenuous work to minimize sweating.

  6. Stay and work in a well-ventilated area. One can keep the kitchen windows open while working or use an exhaust fan if local conditions permit it.

  7. Break the jogging and intense physical activities into short spells.

  8. Stay away from foods and drinks that promote profuse sweating (beverages, spices), and work outdoors during midday as much as possible.

  9. Use a chair that permits sweat evaporation from the areas where sweat tends to pool on sitting (for example, on the buttocks and the back). Cane or wooden chairs are better than rexine or leather chairs.

  10. One can position the legs downwards, slightly apart from the groin area, rather than sitting cross-legged.

  11. If one gets the infection, do not take medicines alone. Some preparations advertised in the mass media may do more harm than good.

  12. Take regular medication as prescribed by the attending physician. If one is already on medication, all the measures listed above will help after consulting the physician to enhance the effect of treatment. Please do not use powders or other agents unless specifically recommended. It is possible to be misled by the visible improvement even while the infection is still active in deeper layers of the skin.

  13. The affected person may need prescription-strength antifungal medications such as a lotion, cream, or ointment to be applied to the affected skin. The doctor might prescribe antifungal pills if the infection is severe or extensive.

How Can Ringworm Be Prevented?

  • Educate: People should be aware of the risk associated with the spread of ringworm from an infected person or animal.

  • Keep Clean: Wash one’s hands regularly. The used areas, such as the school, gym, locker rooms, etc, must be maintained clean.

  • Stay Cool and Dry: Avoid excessive sweating; very thick clothes should not be worn during humid climates for long.

  • Avoid Infected Animals: In animals, the infection will look like a patch in the area where the fur is missing. Avoid contact with such animals.


Ringworm infection is a contagious infection caused by fungal species and affects various body parts with unique features. This condition is manageable by taking antifungal medications prescribed by the doctor. One can do much to prevent this infection by following the preventive measures mentioned. Thus, Ringworm infections are preventable and curable by following the general steps above.

Frequently Asked Questions


Will Ringworms Cause Itching?

Ringworms can affect any part of the body. The infection is usually a ring-like rash. It can be itchy and can cause red, scaly, and cracked lesions. The symptoms typically appear within four to fourteen days of contact with the fungi.


What Will Happen if Ringworm Infection Is Left Untreated?

Ringworm infection is mainly caused by fungus. If left untreated, it can easily spread to other parts of the body. In some cases, the condition aggravates and forms blisters that are infected by bacteria. Antibiotics may be needed to cure such cases.


How Long Will Ringworm Infection Last?

Ringworm infection may resolve within two to three weeks if the infection is mild. However, if the infection is severe, it may take three months for the complete cure. Taking proper treatment can resolve the condition faster.


Will Ringworm Infection Resolve on Its Own?

Ringworm may resolve on its own. It may take months for the ringworm to go away if left untreated. During this period, there are chances that infection may spread to other parts of the body or even to other individuals.


What Are the Causes of Ringworm Infection?

Ringworm infection is a fungal infection. It is highly contagious. It can quickly spread from one person to another by contact. It can spread from human to human, animal to human, infected soil to human, and even from infected objects to humans.


Will an Unhygienic Lifestyle Increase the Chances of Ringworm Infection?

Yes, an unhygienic lifestyle may increase the risk of ringworm infection. The unhygienic practices and a constant damp environment favors fungal growth. If the person is not following proper personal hygiene, the risk of infection is higher. The chances of infection are also high if one has a weakened immune system.


How to Stop Ringworm Infections From Spreading to Other Parts of the Body?

To prevent ringworm infection from spreading, follow the measures given below;
- Do not touch the rash. Wash hands in case you have touched.
- Keep the affected area clean and dry.
- Wash the clothes daily.
- Avoid sharing clothes.
- Treat all the rashes at the same time if you have more than one rash in your body.
- Consult a doctor and start proper medication.


What Is the Treatment for Ringworm Infection?

As ringworm infection is a fungal infection, anti-fungal treatment is generally recommended. Over-the-counter antifungal cream or lotions are generally prescribed by the physician. It is usually advised to be used for two to three weeks. If the infection has spread over a large area, antifungal medications may be required.


What Does Ringworm Infection Look Like?

Ringworm infections generally appear as red or darker lesions than surrounding skin. It is usually ring-shaped. But it may vary. It may be scaly, dry, or swollen. If it occurs in the scalp, it can cause patchy hair loss.


What Will Happen if Babies Are Affected by Ringworm?

Ringworm infection in babies is not a threatening condition. It is usually mild and can be treated with antifungal ointments. But there are chances that it can spread to other areas easily if the baby starts scratching the lesion.


Can Ringworm Infection Occur on the Face?

Yes, ringworm infection can occur on the face. When the condition affects the face, it is known as tinea faciei. It can occur in both males and females. Chances of this infection are higher in people with a weaker immune system.


How to Get Rid of Ringworm Infection on the Face?

The ringworm infections on the face can be treated with antifungal creams or lotions like Clotrimazole and Miconazole. It usually subsides within two weeks. If not, may require antifungal medications as prescribed by the doctor.
Dr. Vinay Kumar
Dr. Vinay Kumar



ringworm infectionsfungal infection
Community Banner Mobile
By subscribing, I agree to iCliniq's Terms & Privacy Policy.

Source Article ArrowMost popular articles

Ask your health query to a doctor online


*guaranteed answer within 4 hours

Disclaimer: No content published on this website is intended to be a substitute for professional medical diagnosis, advice or treatment by a trained physician. Seek advice from your physician or other qualified healthcare providers with questions you may have regarding your symptoms and medical condition for a complete medical diagnosis. Do not delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice because of something you have read on this website. Read our Editorial Process to know how we create content for health articles and queries.

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. iCliniq privacy policy