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How Long is Ringworm Contagious? A Free 7-Way Guide!

Without treatment, the condition is contagious as long as the ringworm rash stays. Let’s find out more about it.

Ringworms are not any kind of worm or parasite. It got the name because it causes a rash that looks like a ring. It is a fungal infection that causes circular inflammation with clearer skin in the middle of the body of an infected person. It is highly contagious.

Ringworm is a kind of skin infection that is seen in the form of circular lesions, pimply blisters, patchy skin, and so on. People also recognized it as Athlete’s foot and jock itch. Usually, it is prickly and scaly. It can happen anywhere on the body like nails, trunk, neck, hand, and so on, but mainly affects the head and feet.

1. Characteristics of Ringworm

moist area
By Irene Dávila/ Unsplash copyrights 2015

1.1. Resides in Moist Areas

Fungi of ringworms tend to grow in moist, warm, damp, hot, and humid areas. These fungi can thrive anywhere but grow once they get adequate requirements for their growth and development. This is why it commonly tends to happen in the hot season.

1.2.  More Frequent in Sweaty Region

Areas (buttocks, skin between toes, groin area, skin folds) with sweat are more commonly affected by the fungus as it finds a suitable environment to grow there.

1.3.  Physical Contact

Skin-to-skin contact with the infected person and pets such as cats, dogs, cows, and goats is the main reason for this infection. Ringworms are also caused by indirect contact with infected objects like towels, combs, bedsheets, barber clippers, and so on.

1.4. Communicable but Curable

Ringworm is a highly contagious skin ailment. However, it is not deadly and is curable if treated on time. The healing process of ringworms is time-consuming. It requires a lot of patience. But once the treatment begins it starts healing and is less contagious. It glimpses dry and small during the cycle of recovery.

2. Sorts of Ringworm

There are varieties of ringworm categories according to their type of fungus. Some sort of majorly found ringworms are:

2.1. Body Ringworm

A fungus called Tinea corporis is responsible for body ringworm. Any region of the body can be impacted by this. It forms on the body in the form of a ring-shaped rash. These rashes look red and are very itchy. Kids are more inclined to this but can affect people of any age group. 

2.2. Foot Ringworm

foot rash
By Towfiqu Barbhuiya/ pexels copyrights 2021

A fungus called Tinea pedis is responsible for the foot ringworm. Athlete’s foot is another name for the foot ringworm. Sweating and not parching feet properly after gliding, bathing, cleansing and wrestling are the contributing causes of this infection. It structures an itchy and scaly hive on the feet. Whitening of skin between the toes and other fingers can also be witnessed. Many instances of scaling of the skin are also found.

2.3. Groin Ringworm

It is also recognized by jock itch. A fungus named Tinea cruris is responsible for this. As the name signifies, the groin is the main spot to get simulated by this kind of ringworm. Usually, it happens in adult men. It causes reddish-brown inflammatory lesions in the groin areas. It is incredibly scratchy and creates enormous discomfort. It might become tough to cure if left untreated. It is suggested to visit a dermatologist if symptoms are acknowledged. 

2.4. Nail Ringworm

Caused by Tinea unguium, it is a fungal infection that affects the nails of the body. The occurrence of this infection makes the nails look thick, yellow, and brittle. Toenails are more likely to get infected than fingernails by this disorder. 

2.5. Scalp Ringworm

Tinea capitis is the fungus responsible for this condition. It is highly contagious and might be problematic and complicated to cure. It is especially cultivated in children. It is an itchy and scaly rash on the scalp which causes baldness on the infected area. To avoid the worsening condition, it is commendable to see a dermatologist. 

3. Symptoms of Ringworm 

contagious ringworm rash
By cottonbro studio/ pexels copyrights 2020

Symptoms of ringworm may include:

  1. The red ring-shaped rash is typically on the buttocks, groin area, arms, legs, face, neck and so on.
  2. Scaly, patchy, and bumpy lesions can be seen.
  3. Extremely itchy.
  4. Usually, it starts with a small rash but later begins to expand and grows larger in a ring form with red-outlined and clearer skin in the center.
  5. Slightly raised and overlapping rings.
  6. It is extremely contagious so it starts scattering to other body parts too.

4. Causes of Ringworm

  1. Direct contact (skin-to-skin) with the person who carries infection.
  2. Having contact with infected pets like dogs and cats and other infected animals.
  3. Sharing personal stuff like clothes, comb, beds, razors, and so on with the contaminated person.
  4. Tight clothing leads to sweating. So, it provides a favorable condition for feeding and growing fungus.
  5. Areas that carry humidity and are hot.
  6. Weak immune system and unbalanced diets.

5. Treatment for Ringworm

5.1. Self-care

Maintaining personal hygiene. Avoidance of sharing personal things like towels, napkins, helmets, clothes, and so on. Avoid the possibilities that lead to the development of fungus. Contaminated areas should always be maintained clean and dry.

5.2. Proper Medication 

How Long is Ringworm Contagious? Free Person Holding Blister Pack Stock Photo
By Polina Tankilevitch/pexels copyrights 2020

Once the symptoms are witnessed, start the usage of antifungal creams, lotions, soaps, and tablets as prescribed by the dermatologist. 

Pro tip: Antifungal creams should not have steroids in them. Steroids affect the immunity of the skin. And worsen the condition of ringworm.

Ringworms treated with steroid creams look differently and as well as they look scary.

Steroid abuse in fungal infection - Dr. Madhu SM

5.3. Balanced Diet

Diet always plays an important role in every disease. So, have a properly balanced diet to gain a robust immune system to fight against the particular pathogen. Also, drink plenty of water. 

6. How Long is Ringworm Contagious?

Ringworms are extremely contagious. Without any treatment, it is contagious as long as the rash stays on the body and can communicate the infection to the other person. Scratching and scraping the infection can transfer the infection to other body parts of the infected person too.  

Nevertheless, Once the proper antifungal treatment starts, ringworm stops being communicable after 48 hours. Usually, treatment of ringworm takes 2 weeks or 4 weeks. But if the condition is serious, longer treatment might be needed. Athletes can take part in matches after 72 hours of treatment. 

Once the treatment starts, the ringworm begins to heal. The lesion starts becoming smaller. Rashes start to look brownish, scaly, dry, and smaller than before. It becomes less itchy and clearer skin can be seen. The diminishing rashes are the signs of healing of the ringworms.

Even if the rash goes away, one should continue the treatment and medication for approximately 15 more days to reduce the risk of recurrence.

7. Final Words

Free A Woman Doing an Experiment Stock Photo
By Artem Podrez/ pexels copyrights 2020

Ringworm is a kind of skin infection that causes a circular lesion. It is prominently contagious. If the infection is deprived of treatment and proper remedy it is contagious until the lesion is there in the body. Subsequently, after 48 hours of treatment, the ringworm becomes less inflammatory.

Thus, it stops being contagious or becomes less contagious though this varies from person to person. It is sensible to see a dermatologist if the signs and symptoms are glimpsed. Lessening rashes can be seen as the process of recovery.

Last Updated on December 26, 2023 by