Ringworm is a fungal infection of the skin that may affect different parts of the head and the body. It may present as an itchy and reddish rash that may progress into a ring-like structure. Ringworm is actually a contagious infection which is transmitted by coming in contact with infected skin or through the use or sharing of combs, towels, clothing or other infected personal items. It can also be caught from infected places or surfaces such as the gym, pool shower areas or locker rooms; warm and moist areas are the most favorable environment for the fungus that may cause ringworm and hence, the transmission of the fungal infection. Infected animals like dogs or cats can also transmit this infection. Once a person acquires a ringworm infection, there are varieties or ringworm medicine available to treat the infection. The ringworm medicine of choice is an antifungal. Antifungals are available creams, gels, tablets or sprays. Usually, most of the ringworm infections improve within 2 weeks of treatment with over-the-counter creams. For other cases, treatment for more than 2 weeks is required in order to completely eliminate the fungus. For cases where antifungal creams did not work, and the ringworm infection becomes severe or has spread in other parts of the body, oral antifungals may be needed.
Antifungal shampoos may also be considered as ringworm medicine even though it does not cure the fungal infection itself. Antifungal shampoos are used for scalp ringworm and actually help prevent the infection from spreading. It may also help promote healing and speed up recovery. Antifungal shampoos contain the active ingredients ketoconazole or selenium sulphide. It is typically used twice a week in conjunction with antifungal tablets.
Oral and Topical Antifungals
Initially, topical antifungals are given to address the ringworm infection. Most body ringworm infections are treated with topical antifungals. Antifungal creams, gels, or spray are usually applied to the affected area daily for two weeks. However, oral antifungals are the ringworm medication of choice if antifungal creams do not work. Antifungal tablets or pills are the general ringworm medication that can treat many fungal infections. Oral antifungals are prescribed to treat the different kinds of ringworm infection, from ringworm of the scalp, ringworm on certain body parts and even nail fungal infections. Note that the type of antifungal will vary per patient as it will also depend on the type of fungus causing the infection and the severity of the condition.
Tolnaftate is one of the many topical antifungals used in the treatment of a variety of ringworm infection. It is available as an over-the-counter cream, gel, spray and lotion. This ringworm medicine is usually applied twice a day on the affected area or depending on the doctor’s advice. Tolnaftate may cause skin irritation as one of its side effects.
Terbinafine is a ringworm medicine available as prescription oral tablets and as over-the-counter topical creams and gels. This antifungal drug is effective in treating most type of ringworm infection. It works by killing and disrupting the growth of the fungus causing the infection. As with any other oral medications, it may cause certain side effects like nausea, diarrhea, indigestion and others. This drug is not recommended for patients with liver disease or with lupus.
Griseofulvin is a ringworm medicine that is available as an oral tablet or spray which needs a doctor’s prescription. It works by prohibiting the fungus from growing and multiplying. Griseofulvin mayalso cause side effect such as nausea, vomiting, headache, diarrhea and others. It is important to know that this ringworm medication should not be taken by infected women who are pregnant because it may cause birth defects to the unborn child, and men should not father a child within six months after treatment with this ringworm medicine. Griseoulvin is also not recommended for patients with liver disease, lupus and women who are breastfeeding. It can also interact with other medications one is taking such as contraceptive pills therefore caution is advised when taking this ringworm medicine.
Itraconazole is another type of ringworm medicine that is available as an oral tablet. It is used to kill the fungus causing the infection and may be used to prevent the occurrence of fungal infections for people with weak immune systems. Itraconazole is not recommended for children and elderly patients or those with severe liver disease. It may also cause side effects like nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and headache.
This type of ringworm medicine is a combination of an antifungal drug and a corticosteroid. It is also used to treat a variety of fungal infections The antifungal drug Clotrimazole works by preventing the growth of the fungus while the corticosteroid Betamethasone helps by reducing the swelling or inflammation, the redness and the itchiness of the fungal infection. It may also cause side effects such as dry skin or stinging sensation. It is not recommended for children below 17 years. This ringworm medicine is not recommended for long term use; not longer than 2 weeks of use is advised because complications may arise.
Note that this list of ringworm medicine is not limited to the listed medications alone. There are more available ringworm medicines and it is best to seek the advice of the pharmacist or the doctor to know which antifungal is the right treatment for the type of ringworm infection one has. The informations about the listed medications are not limited to these as well. It is best to talk to a health care provider for complete information about the ringworm medicine of choice.