Who doesn’t want rings? Wait. Which kind? The red rings that we sometimes see on our skin? We definitely don’t want those, as they might be sign of a ringworm infection! Ringworm, also known as Tinea corporis, is an infection which occurs in the upper layers of the skin. It can occur in the face, hands, feet, etc.1 It is a fungal infection and is seen as a coin-shaped rash, like a ring, thus giving it its name.2 There are many infections similar to a ringworm, therefore, all circular rashes should not be assumed to be a ringworm. Ringworm is a common condition in tropical regions, although it may be seen in other parts of the world as well. Generally, ringworm spreads through family members, living in the same place as they all share articles and touch common surfaces.1
What Causes Ringworms?
- Ringworm is caused by a fungus of the Tinea species. It can affect anybody across age groups and genders as it is highly infectious.1,2 It spreads in the following ways:
- It can occur through contact with a person having ringworm (direct contact), via touch or when we come in contact with the surfaces having the virus like doorknobs, handles, towels, utensils, etc.3
- It can spread through pets and other animals who have been infected via an infected owner. Ringworm also occurs in animals, especially puppies and kittens. It can also occur in dogs, cats, pigs, horses, goats, etc. When we touch an animal infected by ringworm, we might also get affected.3
- As ringworm is a fungal infection, it can stay alive on surfaces, especially damp areas like locker rooms and shower baths. Therefore, we might get infected if we come in contact with the fungus in such places.3
Depending on the region they affect, ringworms are referred to by different names such as:
- Tinea pedis or athlete’s foot: ringworm of the feet2
- Tinea barbae: ringworm in the beard2
- Tinea capitis: ringworm of the scalp2
- Tinea cruris or Jock itch: ringworm of groin2
Symptoms of Ringworm:
The symptoms of ringworm are seen 4-14 days after being infected by the fungus. The symptoms vary with the location in which it occurs, common symptoms seen in all types of ringworms are:2
- Red, itchy skin2
- Ring-like circular rash on skin2
- Loss of hair in the area 2
- Scale-like, cracked texture of the skin where the rash occurs.2
Home Remedies for Ringworm:
As ringworm is a fungal infection, your doctor will thoroughly examine you and might recommend the use of certain medications which will effectively resolve the infection. Please consult your doctor for proper treatment. In this section we share a few natural, home remedies for you to try. Here are a few of them:
1. Soap and water:
Maintaining hygiene and keeping the area dry plays a key role in treating ringworm as the fungus spreads faster in the presence of moisture. We need to wash the area and dry it thoroughly before applying any other home remedy. We can use certain antibacterial soaps as well. The use of pine or coal-tar soap is thought to be helpful, but should be used with caution as it can cause irritation to the skin.
Turmeric is being used since centuries to treat various kinds of skin diseases, ringworm, rash, itching, etc. It has a variety of medicinal properties like providing relief of inflammation (anti-inflammatory), neutralisation of free radicals in body (antioxidant) and reduction of fungal infection (antifungal). You can make use of it as a tea after meals or can also add it to your dishes. Turmeric can effectively treat rashes owing to its anti-inflammatory property.4 You can make a thick paste, by adding water or coconut oil to turmeric and apply it onto the ringworm and some area around it.
This remedy is not backed by scientific research and explanation, yet it is used by people with apparent benefits. You can apply some mashed garlic on the infected area and bandage the area properly with a gauze piece and let it stay for a couple of hours. After that, you should remove the bandage and rinse the area thoroughly. This process is to be repeated daily for a few days or until the ringworm disappears. If you feel pain, itching, irritation or swelling, then remove the garlic and consult a doctor immediately.
4. Apple cider vinegar:
Apple cider vinegar is used as a remedy for food poisoning by people, despite the lack of scientific evidence. You can use it by taking some cider on a cotton ball in the undiluted form, and dabbing it over the ringworm. This has to be done each day to see the benefits.
5. Grapefruit seed extract:
The use of grapefruit seed extract for food poisoning is an age old anecdotal home remedy for ringworm. It can be used by mixing a drop of the extract with a few spoons of water. Apply this to the ringworm directly using a cotton ball. This has to be followed daily. There is need for more research and studies to know the reason for its efficiency.
6. Aloe vera:
Aloe vera can be made use of by taking the leaf of it and splitting it open. The gel has to be scooped out of the leaf and applied onto the area where there is ringworm. There is very little to no evidence of the use of aloe vera gel for ringworm, however since aloe vera is known to be extremely beneficial for the skin, it might just help treat ringworm too.
7. Tea tree oil:
Tea tree oil home remedy for ringworm might be used after diluting it in a base oil like coconut oil (it too doesn’t allow the growth of fungus) and applying it using a cotton ball. This oil must be applied daily to experience its effects.
8. Essential oils:
Essential oils are regarded as natural agents to be used against fungi. They show intense activity against fungal infections.5 The use of essential oils can be made by dilution in a carrier oil and then applying over the affected area.
9. Powdered liquorice:
We need to make a thick paste for application over the ringworm. For making the paste we need to mix a few teaspoons of powdered liquorice in water and boil it. Once this boils, lower the heat till a thick paste like consistency is obtained. This paste is to be cooled down before application over the skin. Keep this paste on the skin for a few minutes before washing it off.
When to Seek Medical Help:
You should consult your doctor if you feel like your rash is not subsidising even after a few days of using home remedies and it keeps growing. If you notice multiple such rashes and feel like the condition is out of hand, please visit your doctor at the earliest. If there is swelling or fever also, you must consult your health care provider or doctor immediately.
Giving and receiving rings is all fine when it is not of the infectious kind. Ringworm, a common fungal infection caused by Tinea corporis, is highly infectious and generally occurs in the tropical regions of the world. As we share personal items, and come in contact with each other, it spreads. If you have it, make sure that you don’t partake in spreading it by following a few simple, natural tricks and tips to make it vanish.