The more you know about ringworm, the better you can understand the infection process. Although learning about ringworm may not help to clear up the infection any more quickly, it can help you know whether or not the treatments you’re using are working.
It can also help you to treat ringworm more effectively in the future, and take steps to prevent further infections.
To accomplish those goals, and to fill in any knowledge gaps you may have about ringworm, let’s talk about the ringworm life cycle.
Setting the stage
Remember that ringworm is not an actual worm, but an infection caused by a fungus. The infection often appears by causing skin to become red, itchy, and flaky, most commonly in ring-shaped patches.
Athlete’s foot and jock itch are two common types of ringworm, and the infection can also appear on the chest, arms, and legs.
A ringworm infection, like most infections, can be broken down into three conceptual “stages”: the early stage (when symptoms are just beginning to show), the middle stage (when the infection is in full swing), and the late stage (when healing is taking place).
Let’s first talk about these stages, and then we’ll discuss what you can do to treat and prevent ringworm.
A ringworm infection typically begins with mild itching at the area of infection, often accompanied by a burning sensation. Ringworm can take hold on nearly any part of the body, including the scalp, feet, hands, chest, arms, legs, and even on the face. A facial ringworm infection is usually located underneath facial hair.
The infected skin may become red or slightly raised, although in some cases the skin may remain flat.
People have a tendency to write off or ignore these early symptoms, and only recognize the signs after the fact. Some people may not notice the symptoms at this stage at all, while others will think the itching is caused by dry skin or the redness is caused by their scratching.
These early signs can begin to appear as soon as four days after exposure to the infection-causing fungus, although it may take up to two weeks for the symptoms to appear.
As the infection begins to get more severe, you’ll begin to notice the itchy area increasing in size and becoming more noticeably red. The area will also begin to dry out and flake, although some people experience unusually moist skin in the days leading up to the dry stage.
Once the infection has entirely taken hold, the infected area will be noticeably itchy, dry, and flaky.
It’s important to note that ringworm can present differently in different people — while the following symptoms are the most common, some people may not experience all of these symptoms. In some individuals, for instance, the skin does not become unbearably itchy. This could still be a ringworm infection.
Symptoms may also vary depending on what area of the body is infected. However, when the infection is on the chest, arms, or legs, you will notice circular red patches forming. These patches will then begin to clear in the center, leaving the rings that give “ringworm” its name.
In areas such as the scalp, the feet, and the groin, the ringworm infection almost always form in patches instead of rings.
If the infection is taking hold in parts of the body that have hair (such as on the scalp or underneath facial hair), you may notice significant hair loss at the location of the red patches.
Ringworm infection under the nails will cause the nails to become abnormally thick and discolored.
Extremely infected and irritated skin, regardless of the location, can begin to blister. If blistering appears in a ringworm infection, it’s best to see a medical professional about the condition.
When treated properly and quickly, ringworm infection can clear up in several weeks. This may take meticulous application of ointments, but can speed along the healing process considerably.
Untreated, the infection can continue to rage for months. Because scratching the area can cause the infection to spread, an untreated infection can spark a second infection, which can cycle endlessly. This makes it important to tend to ringworm infections.
As ringworm heals, the symptoms listed above will slowly begin to subside. The affected skin will go from red to pink and then back to skin color. The itching will slowly become less intense. And the dryness and scaliness of the skin will begin to return to normal.
Interesting reading you: Top 5 Natural Home Remedies for Ringworm
During the healing process, it’s common for skin to continue to itch and to flake — remember that this process is not instantaneous, and the symptoms won’t disappear all at once.
However, when the infection is entirely healed, your skin should no longer be itchy, red, or scaly in any way. If any of these symptoms persist, it’s a sign that the infection has not fully healed.
Once the infection is healed, and even as soon as you find out that you or a loved one has the infection, you need to take steps to ensure that you are not infected with ringworm again.
Treating and Preventing Ringworm
If you believe that you have a ringworm infection, it is in your best interest to see a medical professional for an official diagnosis. There are a number of skin conditions that present similarly to early-stage ringworm, and a proper diagnosis is crucial to effective treatment.
A medical professional can prescribe you medicines or topical treatments to treat ringworm, and similar products can also be bought over the counter.
Both during and after treatment, it is important to take steps to prevent future ringworm infections.
Because ringworm is caused by a fungus, it is commonly contracted in locker rooms and other damp, dark places. Ringworm can be contracted from sweaty towels, musty clothes, and un-sanitized floor mats.
This advice might also help you – Learn how to Clean Fungus of the furniture.
Take steps to distance yourself from places where you believe you may have contracted ringworm, and be sure to wash gym clothes and towels regularly and often. If you are particularly prone to ringworm infections, you can apply preventative over-the-counter creams (Lotrim and Phytozine Cream), such as those designed to prevent athlete’s foot.
If you want to know how to treat ringworm with home remedies you might want to read this articles:
- Treat it with Apple Cider Vinegar – Ringwormtreatmentsblog.com/apple-cider-vinegar-ringworm
- Treat it with Garlic – Ringwormtreatmentsblog.com/garlic-for-ringworm
- Treat it with Tea Tree Oil – Ringwormtreatmentsblog.com/apply-tea-tree-oil-for-ringworm
- Treat it with Essential Oils – Ringwormtreatmentsblog.com/best-essential-oils-for-ringworm