Ringworm Treatment

Medically Reviewed by Jabeen Begum, MD on September 19, 2022

What Are the Treatments for 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.

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 your 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 you 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, and Itraconazole are the oral medicines doctors prescribe most often for ringworm.

  • 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.
  • 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.

Home Care for Ringworm

While you’ll need antifungal medications treat ringworm, there are some things you can do to help stop its spread:

  • 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.

Show Sources


CDC: “Treatment for Ringworm.”

National Health Service (U.K.): “Ringworm and Other Fungal Infections – Treatment.”

Summit Medical Group Foundation: “Ringworm.”

Cleveland Clinic: “How to Cure Ringworm.”

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