How to Get Rid of Ringworm
The treatment you need for ringworm depends on where the infection is on your body and how serious it is. In many cases, your doctor may recommend a drug you can buy over the counter (OTC) at your local drugstore. Others need a prescription.
Over-the-Counter Treatments for Ringworm
If the infection is on your skin – as in the case of athlete’s foot or jock itch – your doctor will likely suggest an OTC antifungal cream, lotion, or powder.
- Clotrimazole (Lotrimin, Mycelex)
- Ketoconazole (Xolegel)
- Miconazole (Aloe Vesta Antifungal, Azolen, Baza Antifungal, Carrington Antifungal, Critic Aid Clear, Cruex Prescription Strength, DermaFungal, Desenex, Fungoid Tincture, Micaderm, Micatin, Micro-Guard, Miranel, Mitrazol, Podactin, Remedy Antifungal, Secura Antifungal)
- Terbinafine (Lamisil)
In most cases, you’ll have to use the medicines on your skin for 2 to 4 weeks to make sure you kill the fungus that causes ringworm. It’ll also lower the chances of it coming back.
Prescription Treatments for Ringworm
If you have ringworm on your scalp or in many different places on your body, OTC treatments may not be enough. Your doctor will write a prescription for an antifungal medication that you’ll have to take by mouth for 1 to 3 months.
Griseofulvin (Grifulvin V, Gris-PEG), terbinafine, itraconazole, and fluconazole (Diflucan) are the oral medicines doctors prescribe most often for ringworm.
- Griseofulvin. You’d have to take this for 8 to 10 weeks. It’s also available as a spray. Side effects include nausea, vomiting, mild diarrhea, headache, and indigestion. Griseofulvin can cause birth defects, so you can’t take it if you’re pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breastfeeding. Men should use condoms during sex for up to 6 months after stopping treatment. It also can cause birth control pills not to work. Use condoms or another form of contraception if you’re on it. And you shouldn’t drive or drink alcohol while you’re taking it.
- Itraconazole. This is prescribed in pill form for 7 or 15 days. It’s not for use in children, the elderly, or those with severe liver disease. While taking it, you may experience nausea, vomiting, indigestion, diarrhea, or headache. See your doctor if you don’t see any improvement in your symptoms or infection after you’ve finished your treatment.
- Terbinafine. If your doctor puts you on these tablets, you’ll have to take them once a day for 4 weeks. They work in most cases. Side effects usually are mild and don’t last long. They might include nausea, diarrhea, indigestion, and rashes. You won’t get a prescription for this if you have liver disease or lupus.
- Fluconazole (Diflucan). This is a tablet used to treat fungal or yeast infections. It kills the infection and prevents it from growing. The dosage and length of time you'll need to be on this prescription vary from person to person.
Natural Remedies for Ringworm
Tea tree oil for ringworm
Tea tree oil is an essential oil made from the leaves of the Australian tea tree. Early studies show it does work as an antifungal against ringworm. Other studies show that it works against athlete's foot when applied as a cream. You should only use tea tree oil topically as it is toxic if ingested.
Apple cider vinegar for ringworm
Some sources suggest treating ringworm with apple cider vinegar by rubbing some on the infected area and covering it with a bandage. Studies show this vinegar does have some antifungal properties. However, doctors warn that, due to its acidic nature, apple cider vinegar can cause open sores and scarring when used to treat ringworm.
Home Care for Ringworm
Keeping things clean prevents the infection from spreading to other parts of your body as well as to other people and animals in your household. It will also prevent reinfection once yours has cleared up.
Here are ways to keep things clean when you have a ringworm infection:
- Keep your hands clean. Wash your hands each time you touch your rash and before you touch anyone else.
- Wash your clothes, bedding, and towels. Wash everything you’ve touched or worn in hot water and laundry detergent.
- Shower after workouts. This is especially important if you play contact sports.
- Wear shower shoes. Protect your feet at the gym or pool.
- Have your dog checked for fungal infection. Dogs can spread infection to you.
- Clean the affected area with soap, and dry with a different towel from the rest of your body.
- Wear fresh clothes, especially undergarments, every day.
- Wash your clothes regularly and keep them dry when not in use.
- Throw out or disinfect shoes in the case of athlete's foot.