Despite the name, ringworm isn’t caused by worms. Instead, it is a fungal infection that causes raised, round patches on the skin. If the infection worsens, the patches will appear on other body parts. These patches are extremely itchy andcan cause burning, stinging, and peeling skin.

Ringworm can infect the skin on large parts of the body but is commonly found on the following:

  • Hands and feet
  • Toenails and fingernails
  • Scalp
  • Groin
  • Beard

Ringworm can also affect animals, including house pets and farm animals.

Ringworm Symptoms

The most recognizable ringworm symptoms are the tell-tale flat rings on the skin. When ringworm infects the scalp, the skin will be itchy and painful, and some hair loss may occur. Ringworm rashes also tend to look different on the scalp and the face.

Ringworm that affects hands and feet can cause the nails to become thick and take on strange shapes.

Causes of Ringworm

Ringworm is contagious and is caused by mold-like parasites that live in the outer layer of the skin. Ringworm spreads in the following ways:

  • Skin-to-skin contact with a person infected with ringworm
  • Petting dogs and cats infected with ringworm
  • Sharing personal items with an infected person
  • Prolonged contact with ringworm-infected soil

Ringworm commonly occurs in warm, humid climates and infects people with weak immune systems or those who wear tight clothing.

Diagnosing Ringworm

It is relatively easy for medical professionals to diagnose ringworm by examining the affected skin. Doctors will ask patients about their health history and any other symptoms they may have other than an itchy rash. The doctor may take a skin or nail sample and send it to a laboratory for testing.

While it is more common in children, ringworm affects people of all ages. Ringworm infections in the groin are prevalent in young men, while young children are often afflicted with ringworm scalp infections.

Treatment for Ringworm

If the infection presents as athlete’s foot or jock itch, the treatment for ringworm includes several OTC ointment and powder options:

  • Terbinafine
  • Ketoconazole
  • Miconazole
  • Clotrimazole

The cream or powder must be applied over a minimum of four weeks to ensure the fungus is gone and that it won’t come back.

Once the treatment starts to work, it should be continued for a few more weeks. Clothing items that came into contact with ringworm must be washed daily, and only light clothes and socks should be worn until the fungus is gone.

Preventing Ringworm

It is not always easy to prevent ringworm because of how common it is and how quickly it spreads. The prevention of ringworm relies on personal hygiene, including:

  • Cleansing the skin and drying off properly after a bath or shower
  • Wearing clean socks and underwear each day
  • Not sharing sheets, towels, and clothing with infected people
  • Washing hands thoroughly after petting dogs or cats
  • Showering immediately after exercise or working out
  • Wearing flip-flops in public showers

Visit ShorePoint Health Emergency & Urgent Care for Ringworm Treatment

As one of the only health systems in Cape Coral with ER and urgent care services under one roof, ShorePoint Health Emergency & Urgent Care offers affordable pricing, quality care, and trained staff. Patients are only billed based on the level of care received, and no appointments are needed for in-person visits. The ER is available 24 hours a day, and the urgent care walk-in clinic hours of operation are from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily.

ShorePoint Health Emergency & Urgent Care-Cape Coral, a department of ShorePoint Health Port Charlotte, is located at 2521 Del Prado Blvd. N. in Cape Coral and may be reached at 239-356-0740.