“How does ringworm look?” Ringworm infection is caused by a tropical fungus. It typically affects the nails, scalp, groin as well as the skin between the toes. Anyone might acquire such fungal skin infections but scalp ringworm is usually more common in children while groin ringworm affects adult men. Ringworm can get extremely itchy when it is healing. In this article, we will study how ringworm looks when it is in its early stages. We will also address common queries surrounding ringworm such as “does ringworm itch when it is healing?” as well as “how long a ringworm infection will last?”
How does ringworm infection start? How does it look in its early stages?
Ringworm is also called Tinea infection in medical parlance. As stated above, it is caused by fungus and not by a worm. Typically, fungal species called Microspora, Trichophyta or Dermatophytes can cause ringworm in animals and humans. Ringworm is also highly contagious-so it can spread from human to human or from animals to humans through close contact.
Here are a few ringworm pictures showing what ringworm looks like on a human:
As can be seen, in the beginning, the ringworm starts off as a small circular rash which is reddish in color. The rash is raised and has scaly patches. It may have a clearing in the center bordered by a circular raised edge that may be approximately 1/4th inch in diameter. The itchy rash appears to spread outwards and the hair in the center of the rash may appear broken or bent at the shaft. This is especially seen in case of tinea infections affecting the scalp or the beard in men.
How does ringworm look like when it starts?
Here are typical characteristic sign of ringworm infections in humans:
- Circular rash with basically raised contours
- The outside edge of the rash might also appear wavy or curvy
- There may be a single ring or multiple rings connected to each other
- The patches may be present anywhere on the body including the legs, arms, toes, groin and torso.
- The border of the rash, as already stated, will be a darker shade than the rest of the skin.
- Athlete’s Foot-(tinea affecting feet typically in athletes or sportspersons wearing sweaty socks for long periods while training) appears as circular scaly rash on the feet. There may be cracking and peeling of skin accompanied by bacterial infection.
- Scalp ringworm is accompanied by severe dandruff formation. It is very common in children of school going age and also easily transmittable.
- Jock itch (tinea of the groin) is a red circular rash which is extremely itchy. It starts off as small circular patches that soon start blistering and oozing if left untreated.
- Nail ringworm is seen in the nail bed. In extreme cases, the nails get brittle and the entire nail might fall out in later stages of the ringworm. Here is how ringworm of the nail looks like in early stages.
The internal area of the ringworm rash might also have following characteristics
- Oozing redness
- Scattered red bumps
- Clearing in the center
- In case of tinea on scalp or beard, there may be broken or bent hair shaft.
Who can get ringworm? How long does it last?
Almost anyone can suffer from ringworm infections. In majority of the cases, following people have greater likelihood of suffering from ringworm:
- Teenagers and children below 15 years of age
- Sportspersons and wrestlers
- Swimmers and gym goers
- People who need to work in hot humid areas
- Residents in closed, crowded and damp areas
- People who share bed clothes, sheets, towels, combs, personal items etc
- Patients with suppressed immune function
- People who wear tight clothes/underwear
How long do ringworm infections last?
Ringworm infections typically last for 2-3 weeks but this time period also depends on many factors such as your immune function, diet, medications you take as well as the steps you take to stop the ringworm from spreading. If your ringworm is extremely itchy while it is healing, it is important to use the prescribed antifungal cream as directed by your doctor. Also make sure to wash your hands each time you touch the infection. Avoid sharing towels, bed sheets, combs etc with friends and family members. Make sure to wash all clothing including the bed sheets in hot water to kill the spores of the ringworm. If you have a pet, make sure you treat it with antifungal shampoo or medicine to curb the spread of the fungus.
Does ringworm itch while it is healing? What to do?
Yes, ringworm rashes can get extremely itchy when they are in the process of healing. Use the following home remedies to counter the itchiness:
- Apply chlorophyll or apple cider vinegar diluted in water (1:4). Make a compress and apply it to the affected parts.
- Apply Aloe Vera tincture two to three times daily to the site of ringworm to stop itchiness while it is healing.
- Apply tea tree oil to the ringworm. Tea tree essential oil is anti-microbial in nature and can kill the fungus.
- Use over-the-counter terbinafine or clotrimazole cream on the rash.
- Rubbing some organic local honey can also soothe the skin and stop itchiness. Apply honey twice a day on the infection and cover with a bandage. Reapply twice daily changing the bandage each time.
- Crush or grate some garlic and apply its juice to the ringworm twice a day to stop itchiness.
- Lavender oil can also help curb ringworm infections. Apply a few drops of diluted lavender oil on the itchy skin twice a day.
- A mixture of salt and white vinegar can also prevent itchiness of ringworm infections. Take some on a cotton ball and press it onto the infected skin.
- Shampoo using antifungal shampoos to stop itchiness of scalp. Use a shampoo containing tea tree oil to counter the itchiness and reduce dandruff.
If none of these remedies work, it is best to seek medical treatment. Visit your doctor who can prescribe oral and topical antifungal medicines. These are stronger than the ones available over-the-counter and can help reduce itchiness of ringworm while it is healing.