Ringworm is a fungal skin infection that can affect any body part in humans and animals. There are many ways to avoid ringworm and in this guide we will discuss the best ways to do so. Now, there is no guarantee that using these methods you will never ever get the dreaded ringworm infection again. However, these steps can certainly reduce your risk of developing it.
Ways to avoid ringworm infections of the feet (Athlete’s Foot)
- To avoid ringworm on the feet you must keep your feet dry- always. Go barefoot when possible. An exception to this is when walking in moist areas such as on floors near common/public swimming pools or baths, gyms and locker rooms etc; make sure to wear slippers/foot wear in these areas to avoid getting infected with fungal spores.
- If you have a tendency of sweating, make sure you change your socks every day. Always use cotton and woolen socks and avoid synthetic ones since they tend to draw moisture towards the feet.
- As far as possible, wear shoes that are lightweight and airy. Avoid rubber or vinyl shoes and, where possible, ventilate your feet by removing the shoes from time to time.
Ways to avoid ringworm infections on the body or groin
- To avoid ringworm on the body (Tinea Corporis), avoid sharing or exchanging personal items like clothes, athletic gear, towels or bed sheets etc with other people.
- If you engage in contact sports such as wrestling, take a bath immediately after.
- Shower and bathe using anti fungal products.
- Keep your skin clean and dry after bathing by drying with a towel and, afterwards, dusting with an anti fungal powder liberally.
- If you are already suffering from fungus in the toe region (Athlete’s Foot) wear your socks prior to wearing your underwear and other clothing. This will prevent the infection from spreading to the groin region (Jock’s Itch).
- Wash all clothes, underwear and bed sheets etc in very hot water each time after use.
Ways to avoid ringworm infection on the beard and scalp regions
- Ringworm can also affect the scalp and beard areas. To avoid these, it is essential to avoid sharing combs, razors and other personal items with other people.
- Make use of antifungal shampoos and soaps to treat existing infection. Use the recommended anti fungal products (powders, creams or lotions etc) at least 2 times a day on the afflicted portion. Use an antifungal shampoo at least thrice a week for washing hair.
- Keep the facial skin and scalp dry.
- Wash all used items/clothing etc in hot water with little bleach. This will kill the fungal spores and prevent them from spreading.
Some more preventive measures to avoid ringworm
- Treat infected animals– Ringworm infections can spread from pets to humans. So, if you notice missing hair or bald patches on your pet’s skin, have it treated by the vet. Isolate the pet for a few days and teach children to wash hands after petting them. Make sure to vacuum the house thoroughly to remove fungal spores. Throw the vacuum bag outdoors in a trash can. If needed clean the filter and heater/air conditioner ducts. Also wipe down the walls and furniture with bleach based solutions/antifungal cleaner. This is an important step to prevent ringworm infections from spreading.
- Ringworm is a contagious infection– If your family member has symptoms of ringworm (rough scaly and itchy red patches with clear center and raised scaly border) then have it treated immediately. Failure to do this will spread the infection to other healthy areas as well as to other individuals.
- Most ringworm infections can be treated at home without prescription medicines– If you are suffering from ringworm, make sure you use an over-the-counter powder, cream or antifungal spray on it. Those containing ingredients like Miconazole, Clotrimazole and terbinafine are usually quite effective. If however, the infection does not respond to these, have it checked by a doctor. You might need prescription oral/topical medication or other drugs to treat it.
- Continue using the medicine for at least 4-6 weeks or as directed– Remember, just because you are no longer experiencing the symptoms of ringworm does not mean that you can discontinue the therapy. Continue taking/applying the topical/oral medicine to completely get rid of the ringworm. This is an important step to avoid ringworm in the future.
These are some of the most important preventive measures that can help you avoid ringworm infections and also stop their spread.