Ringworm infections are common fungal skin infections that are also highly contagious. The fact that these infections spread easily from one person to another, also make them rather tedious to cure. It is very important to educate the sufferers, including young children, about ringworm infections. Informing kids especially can help stop ringworm infections and prevent them from spreading it to other healthy children as well as family members around. Good hand washing habits, disallowing sharing of personal items and other preventive steps can help stop the spread of such communicable skin diseases.
Ringworm can afflict several parts of the body. A group of dermatophytes/fungi causes these infections. The body parts typically affected include:
- Ringworm of the scalp and beard- Tinea Capitis
- Ringworm of the body- Tinea Corporis
- Ringworm of the groin- Jock’s Itch or Tinea Cruris
- Ringworm of foot- Athlete’s Foot or Tinea Pedis
- Ringworm of nails- Tinea Unguium
There are several ways to stop ringworm infections and prevent them from spreading.
10 steps to stop ringworm from spreading
Step 1: Treat the infection as soon as you suspect it
Typical symptoms of ringworm include broken hair, raised circular red scaly patches on the skin, itchiness, inflammation etc. On the scalp and beard areas, there may be flaking, dry skin and bent or broken hair shafts. Many anti fungal medicines and shampoos are available for clearing ringworm infections. Typical OTC antifungal medicines are available in form of shampoos, creams, sprays, lotions and powders typically include Lotrimin, Lamisil, Mycotin, Clotrimazole and Miconazole.
Step 2: Take/apply the anti fungal medicines as prescribed on the medicines’ label
Topical antifungal medicines must be rubbed on the tinea infections three times a day for a period of 4-6 weeks. For Tinea Capitis or ringworm of scalp, make use of shampoos like Selenium Sulfide based Selsun Blue®, Nizoral® etc for washing hair at least 3 times a week. Do not forget to wash hair bands, clips, barrettes, hair extensions and other washable accessories using the antifungal shampoo.
Step 3: Visit a doctor
If there is no effect seen on the infection despite OTC drugs, it is likely that you have developed immunity to them. So, do visit a doctor who can test the exact dermatophyte causing your ringworm and accordingly prescribe a higher strength oral antifungal to solve the problem. The medicines need to be takes as prescribed and for a period of at least 4-5 weeks.
Step 4: Do not skip the oral antifungal dose
The infection might appear to improve but the entire dosage of the oral medicines must be taken nevertheless. Failure to do so can cause the infection to return. This is the most important step to stop ringworm.
Step 5: Avoid damp moist conditions
In case of ringworm of toenails, groin and feet, avoid wearing sweaty damp shoes, underwear or socks for extended periods of time. One must also avoid walking bare feet on floors located near the swimming pools, locker, public bathrooms etc as these moist areas are most likely to spread ringworm infections.
Step 6: Avoid tight sportswear to stop ringworm
Tinea pedis/Athlete’s foot and Jock’s itch (or tinea of the groin) can be prevented by avoiding tight sportswear, shoes and sweaty gym apparel. Wash all used clothing in hot water with little bleach where possible. This can help kill the fungal spores and prevent the infection from recurring.
Step 7: Do not share infected items with other people
These mainly include infected towels, combs, brushes and other personal items. Educate children about how the infection spreads. Focus on healthy habits like washing hands carefully.
Step 8: Keep fingernails and toe nails trimmed
Shorten and trim the nails as this makes it easier to stop ringworm from spreading. Do make use of antifungal nail lotions/varnish to prevent and stop ringworm of nails in its tracks.
Step 9: Keep infected child at home
For ringworm infections in kids, it is best to keep the child at home for a couple of days. Once the treatment has begun, the child can go to the school/daycare. The rash may be covered with bandage/cloth. Prohibit the child from using a public swimming pool until the infection clears.
Step 10: Get a vet to take a look at your pet with ringworm
For ringworm in pets, make sure you have them seen by a vet as soon as possible. Pets can also spread ringworm to humans, so make sure that children are taught not to touch infected animals and to wash their hands if contact occurs.
These are 10 steps to prevent and stop ringworm from spreading. Remember; if the ringworm infection does not clear despite treatment, do not hesitate to see a doctor. This can prevent many unwanted complications.