Ringworm (tinea corporis) is a fungal skin infection of the same family as athlete's foot and jock itch. Ringworm primarily affects the scalp and the surface of the skin and thrives in warm, moist areas and gets its name from the ring-shaped rash that forms on infected areas. Ringworm is treated with topical medications and, in severe cases, oral medications. The condition usually clears up after two to four weeks of treatment but, in some people, may recur. If you are prone to recurring ringworm infections, there are several options available for preventing further episodes.
Make sure to follow your treatment plan thoroughly and use all meds as directed. The rash may disappear within the first few days of treatment but the fungus may still be on the skin. Most ringworm treatments last a minimum of two weeks. If you stop your treatments too soon you run the risk of a recurrence.
Check Your Pets
Dogs and cats can both carry the ringworm fungus and infect their owners. If you have taken several courses of medication and continue to get infected, you may be catching it from your pets. Ferrets and rabbits as well as farm animals like goats, pigs and horses can also transmit the fungus to humans.
Change Your Enviroment
If you share living space with another person, she may also have the fungus and you may be passing it back and forth. The fungus is usually spread by direct skin-to-skin contact but it can also live on objects like towels, bedding and hairstyling tools as well as bathroom surfaces. Children are also prone to ringworm--a child may catch it at school, or day care, and bring it home to her parents.
Be Careful at the Gym
Warm, moist locker rooms, and showers, are the ideal breeding grounds for ringworm fungi. Wear flip-flops when showering, avoid walking barefoot and sit on a clean towel instead of bare surfaces. Gym equipment may also harbour the fungus, especially the seats, so wipe down the equipment before and after use.
Alter Personal Hygiene
Shower immediately after exercise, to avoid having sweat sit on your skin. Dry yourself, thoroughly, before dressing. Some people may also need to use powder to prevent moisture from collecting in skin folds. Keep finger and toenails trimmed so the fungus can't hide under the nails. Avoid sharing shoes or clothing with others and wear clothing that breathes.
Get a Second Opinion
There are rashes, like some types of eczema, that look like ringworm. Additionally, some prescription anti-fungal creams may have topical steroids to stop itching and swelling--independent of the ringworm. As a result, it appears that the rash is responding to the ringworm medication when it's really responding to the anti-inflammatory effects of the steroid. When you stop using the medication, the rash returns. Some over-the-counter ringworm and itch remedies may also temporarily relieve the symptoms in non-ringworm rashes. If you keep getting recurring infections, especially after frequent treatments, have your doctor test you to make sure it's not something else.