Understanding Ringworm -- Diagnosis and Treatment

How Do I Know If I Have Ringworm?

Your doctor will probably recognize ringworm's characteristic rash. However, he or she may also:

  • Look at the infection with a special light that can detect traces of fluorescent materials that occur in a ringworm infection
  • Scrape an area of involved skin and look at the sample under the microscope
  • Take a culture to find out which if any fungus is causing the infection in order to select the most effective antifungal medicine if the culture is positive

What Are the Treatments for Ringworm?

Your doctor may prescribe an antifungal medication. These drugs work to control the fungus and prevent it from coming back. You may spread the antifungal product on your skin as a medicated shampoo, powder, cream, foam, spray, or lotion; or you may take a pill so the medicine can spread throughout your body. Your doctor may prescribe a combination of these treatments.

Many antifungal medications, such as miconazole or clotrimazole, are available over the counter at a less expensive price. Ask your doctor whether you can use one of these or whether prescription-strength medicine is necessary.

How Can I Prevent Ringworm?

Good personal hygiene helps prevent the spread of ringworm. Teach your child to practice good hygiene and generally not to share combs, brushes, or hats. Children also shouldn't share towels, clothes, or sports equipment that hasn't been properly cleaned.

Ringworm also can be transmitted from an infected dog or cat, so avoid animals who look mangy or have bald spots in their coats. If you have an animal that you think may have ringworm, take it to your veterinarian for treatment.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Stephanie S. Gardner, MD on April 03, 2014



American Academy of Family Physicians: "Tinea Infections."

Merk Manuals: "Ringworm (Tinea)."


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