|CRDAMC Homepage | CRDAMC Library Phone #: (254) 288-8366 | CRDAMC Library Fax #: (254) 288-8368|
(Tinea Infection; Dermatophyte Infection)
by Michelle Badash, MS
Ringworm is a fungal infection of the skin. Despite its name, it has nothing at all to do with worms. The fungal infection may appear on the skin, nails, hands, feet, or scalp.
Ringworm is caused by microscopic skin fungi that live on the outer layer of the skin. You can get ringworm from direct skin-to-skin contact with infected people or pets. It is also transmitted by sharing hats and personal hair grooming items, and through contact with locker room floors, shower stalls, seats, or clothing used by an infected person.
Risk Factors TOP
Ringworm is more common in children 12 years of age or younger.
Factors that may increase your risk of developing ringworm include:
When ringworm appears on the skin, it makes circular, reddish patches with raised borders. Eventually, the patches grow larger, and the centers of the patches turn clear, giving a ring-like appearance.
Symptoms of ringworm on other parts of the body vary, for example:
Ringworm symptoms on the body usually appear 4-10 days after exposure. Scalp symptoms will appear in 10-14 days.
You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A skin examination will be done. Ringworm is often easily diagnosed by appearance. However, symptoms may be similar to other conditions. A sample of the affected area may be taken for testing.
Treatment can be oral (taken by mouth) or topical (applied to skin):
This type of treatment is used for ringworm of the skin or body. It includes antifungal creams and powders. It usually takes at least 2 weeks for the ringworm to clear. After ringworm clears, treatment is usually continued for at least 2 more weeks.
For ringworm involving the body, hands, or feet, nonprescription treatment is highly effective.
Some medications are more effective than others.
This type of treatment is used for ringworm of the nails and scalp. Early treatment for scalp ringworm is important to prevent permanent hair loss. A culture or other test may be given to get an accurate diagnosis before beginning this kind of treatment. Prescription pills are given for:
If you developed ringworm from your pet, your pet should be treated as well. Check with your pet's veterinarian for treatment procedures.
The following steps may prevent ringworm:
American Academy of Dermatology
Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians
About Kids Health—The Hospital for Sick Children
The College of Family Physicians of Canada
Higgens EM, Fuller LC, Smith CH. Guidelines for the management of tinea capitis. Br J Dermatol. 2000;143(1):53-58.
Kakourou T, Uksal U, European Society for Pediatric Dermatology. Guidelines for the management of tinea capitis in children. Pediatr Dermatol. 2010;27(3):226-228.
Panackal AA, Halpern EF, Watson AJ. Cutaneous fungal infections in the United States: Analysis of the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey (NAMCS) and National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey (NHAMCS), 1995-2004. Int J Dermatol. 2009;48(7):704-712.
Tinea capitis. DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T116543/Tinea-capitis. Updated August 26, 2016. Accessed September 13, 2016.
Tinea infections: athlete's foot, jock itch, and ringworm American Academy of Family Physicians website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Updated April 2014. Accessed January 12, 2015.
Last reviewed March 2017 by EBSCO Medical Review Board David L. Horn, MD
Last Updated: 1/13/2014
EBSCO Information Services is fully accredited by URAC. URAC is an independent, nonprofit health care accrediting organization dedicated to promoting health care quality through accreditation, certification and commendation.
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
To send comments or feedback to our Editorial Team regarding the content please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Our Health Library Support team will respond to your email request within 2 business days.