Ringworm is a type of fungal infection of the skin, which is generally treated by the over-the-counter creams. However, this infection is notoriously resistant to all kinds of treatments and is known to come back repeatedly unless you follow steps to prevent it.
While mainstream anti-fungal treatments are generally recommended by doctors for ringworm, you should know that such treatment procedures include drugs and creams that can result in unwanted side effects. Further, these treatment options do not guarantee 100% elimination of ringworm.
There are numerous natural home remedies for ringworm, with research showing that essential oils to be more effective than over the counter treatments commonly used. As with many skin ailments, prevention and early detection are your best bet in winning a war against it.
That said, welcome to Olivia’s ultimate guide to everything there is to know about ringworm. To make this an easy read, I have divided this article into four main sections:
- Background information on ringworm
- Best essential oils for ringworm
- Essential oil recipes for ringworm
- Home remedies for ringworm
What Is Ringworm?
Medically referred to as tinea or dermatophytosis, ringworm is a fungal infection of the skin characterized by red, scaly, swollen circular rashes. Typically, the infection presents itself on the scalp, face, neck, groin, feet, and other parts of the body.
Contrary to what the name suggests, there are no worms involved in contracting ringworm. The name is actually a misnomer given earlier when people though it was caused by worms. Ringworm is incredibly contagious and can even spread from animals to humans though direct contact. There are over 3 million cases of ringworm in the US alone every year.
You may know ringworm by some of its other names. These include:
- Ringworm of the scalp – more common among children
- Body ringworm – round ring shapes all over the body
- Jock itch – ringworm infection of the thighs, groin, and butt more common in boys and men
- Athlete’s foot – ringworm infection of the feet more common in people who go barefoot in public areas like locker rooms, swimming pools, showers
Facts About Ringworm
The two images below show 13 facts about ringworm.
Signs And Symptoms Of Ringworm
While dermatophytosis is quite easy to recognize, it can also be confused with a myriad of other skin rashes that all share similar symptoms.
In most cases, tinea starts off as a flat, red scaly lesion that forms a border which extends outwards in a circular shape. However, the specific signs of a ringworm infection depend on the exact location of the affected area. You’ll generally experience the following symptoms:
- Raised, scaly and itchy patches that are discolored
- Round lesions with red border resembling a ring
- Blisters and bald patches may develop
- Your nails may begin thickening, cracking and discoloring
Causes And Risk Factors Of Ringworm
Despite the name, ringworm isn’t caused by any worms or parasites; but rather by fungi referred to as dermatophytes. According to the CDC, there are around 40 different fungi species that can cause tinea. These fungi live off of dead tissue on your hair, nails, and skin thriving in warm, moist areas where the skin folds over.
These fungi also thrive in warm, moist areas such as swimming pools, locker rooms, showers, tanning beds, clothing, rental shoes etc. That’s why ringworm is so contagious; all it takes is for you to come into contact with an infected person, animal, or even object. Other risk factors for ringworm include:
- Living in a warm climate
- Excessive sweating
- Sharing clothing, towels, and beddings with an infected person
- Take part in contact sports e.g. wrestling
- Have pets around the house
- Wearing restrictive clothing
- Weakened immune system
How To Prevent Ringworm
Ringworm is highly contagious which makes prevention extremely difficult. What’s worse is that tinea is quite common and could be spread even without direct contact. However, taking the following precautions could help you avoid the infection altogether.
- Maintain cleanliness – The truth of the matter is, you’re more likely to develop tinea if you have poor hygiene. To avoid spreading the infection, always wash your hands and keep shared materials and equipment clean.
- Stay cool, stay dry – The worst thing you could do with ringworms is to allow your skin to stay wet and warm for extended periods. Ringworm causing fungi thrive in warm and moist areas. As such, make sure you don’t wear too many layers when it’s warm and try to stay cool so you don’t sweat a lot.
- Avoid sharing personal and hygiene items – Do not let anyone use your towel, clothing, hairbrush and other hygiene items. Likewise, restrain from using other people’s items.
- Give your pets and animals some distance – Animals can also spread ringworm when you touch or play with them. If it’s your pets, get them checked out by a vet for ringworm to prevent the spread. However, you may want to avoid touching farm animals, livestock or zoo animals.
When To See Your Doctor
For most part, many people with dermatophytosis only have mild symptoms that don’t warrant a trip to the doctors. When left untreated, it can go away on its own.
However, cases that persist for more than two weeks will have to be checked out before they get worse. Most primary care and family medicine specialists treat ringworm while pediatricians already have a ready treatment for children.
Being a skin condition, most adults tend to go for medical advice from dermatologists first. Similarly, if the rashes are in the groin or an area that affects your daily activities, you’ll want to see a doctor before the infection gets a chance to spread.
How Essential Oils Help With Ringworm
Extracted and distilled from different parts of plants, essential oils are ripe with an array of medicinal components. The oils are actually concentrated with the specific chemical compounds that not only characterize the plant, but also support its life cycle. This is almost the same process used to make medications, except only with powerful substances that are all natural.
Essential oils contain antimicrobial, antiviral and antifungal values that help fight off the spread of harmful infections. What’s more, they don’t come with any of the side effects found in pharmaceuticals, skin creams, and synthetic drugs.
Even without antifungal properties, other essential oils still have anti-inflammatory, astringent, and antiseptic properties that could all lend a hand one way or another in the prevention and treatment of ringworm.
Whether it’s ringworm, athlete’s foot, jock itch, nail fungus or any other infection, you can bet there’s an oil for that. Below are a few of the most potent oils that could prove helpful in the fight against dermatophytosis.
Recommended Natural Product For Ringworm
Carefully formulated with potent ingredients that have proven anti-fungal, antimicrobial and antiseptic properties, Wonder Balm from Puriya is a tried and tested product for various skin conditions including athlete’s foot, jock itch and ringworm. Made in the US, it contains various essential and carrier oils such as tea tree, eucalyptus, lavender, rose geranium.
Which Essential Oils Are Most Effective In Treating Ringworm?
1. Tea Tree
Tea tree oil is a widely used essential oil due to its effectiveness in treating many bacterial and fungal skin conditions. Terpenoid, which is a powerful antifungal present in tea tree oil, is very beneficial against the fungi causing ringworm.
To use, simply add 12 drops of tea tree oil to an ounce of carrier oil such as coconut oil. Dip in a Q-Tip or cotton ball and apply to the affected areas twice a day.
If you are using tea tree oil to treat ringworm on your scalp, use 30 drops to an ounce of carrier oil and gently massage your scalp. Repeat daily.
Neem oil is a well-known essential oil used for its healing abilities since ancient times. It contains various compounds that have strong medicinal and fungicidal properties, making it valuable for the treatment of ringworm.
To use, dilute 5 drops of neem oil in a tablespoon of carrier oil and massage over the impacted area three times a day. Additionally, the application of neem oil will also limit the itching and dryness caused due to ringworm.
Lavender oil is packed with therapeutic and calming properties and can be used to deal with a range of health ailments ranging from anxiety disorders to skin issues such as acne. Due to its antifungal effects and its ability to permeate deep into the skin, it can help fight ringworm effectively and also aid the skin heal fast. In addition, it soothes inflamed, itchy, dry and scaly skin caused by ringworm.
There are two ways you can use the essential oil of lavender to treat ringworm:
- Add a couple of drops to your bath water and soak your body in it for at least 15-20 minutes.
- Dilute 4-5 drops in a teaspoon of olive oil and apply the blend on the impacted areas. Continue doing this three times a day to eradicate the ringworm infection completely.
Oregano essential oil has strong antifungal qualities due to the presence of thymol and carvacrol, making it highly effective in dealing with athlete’s foot and ringworm infections.
When used topically, it can clear ringworm fast. Slowly massage the infected area with few drops of oregano oil diluted in a tablespoon of sweet almond oil. Do this three times a day and you will observe a noticeable difference in less than a week.
The essential oil of lemongrass has potent anti-inflammatory and antifungal properties. While it can help heal the wounds faster, it can also reduce and prevent the spread of various types of fungus including ringworm to other areas of your skin. To use, mix 4 drops in a tablespoon of macadamia nut oil and apply using a cotton ball to the impacted areas up to 3 times daily. Follow this regimen until the infection is eradicated completely. You can also apply a brewed lemongrass tea bag directly to the ringworm.
Known all over the world for its unique cross between a minty and a nutty aroma, thyme is among the most popular kitchen spices. But what many people still don’t know is that aside from being a culinary condiment, the essential oil extracted from thyme is ripe with numerous health benefits.
A 2007 study showed that thyme possesses potent antifungal properties. Even just one percent of thyme oil is enough to eliminate fungus such as Trichophyton which is responsible for causing ringworms. More specifically, the healing abilities of thyme can be attributed to two specific components: p-cymene and thymol. Both these active compounds work together to prevent and stop the spread of fungi so that other healthy skin parts are not affected.
Eucalyptus is among the most highly regarded medicinal plants on the planet today. It’s used in a variety of treatments due to the wide range of medicinal properties it possess. When extracted, eucalyptus oil is a potent anti-inflammatory, analgesic, antiviral, antifungal, antibacterial and antimicrobial agent.
Thanks to all these qualities, eucalyptus essential oil just might be the best solution for treating a plethora of skin issues including ringworm. As a bonus, eucalyptus has a cooling effect that complements the analgesic qualities even further. This means that it can be used to alleviate the itchiness and discomfort that comes with a severe case of dermatophytosis.
Sourced from the resin of the Boswellia Serrata and Ferreana trees, frankincense essential oil is referred to as the “king of oils” and for good reason. When it comes to treating ringworm, this particular oil has a lot of benefits to offer. Frankincense oil helps boost the immune system and helps it deal with any viruses, bacteria, and harmful pathogens.
It prevents germs and ringworm fungi from forming on the face, feet, and other areas of the skin. Frankincense oil has also been found to have potent anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties that gives it the ability to eliminate harmful bacteria and fungi even on objects. This could really come in handy when disinfecting community equipment like gyms and locker room floors.
In addition to the above, other essential oils like garlic, myrrh, helichrysum, manuka, peppermint and geranium have been found particularly effective when it comes to dealing with fungi that causes ringworm.
Some Important Tips When Using Essential Oils
- Essential oils need to be diluted in a carrier oil to no more than 5%.
- Perform a skin patch test to make sure that you don’t have any severe allergic reaction to the oil you are going to use. The inside of the forearm is the best spot to carry out this test since the skin in this region is delicate, just like the skin of the face.
- Always use unadulterated, pure and therapeutic grade essential oils and adhere to the safety directions given by the manufacturer.
- Seek medical advice before using essential oils if you have a medical condition or if any unfavorable symptoms develop following the use of essential oils.
Essential Oil Blends For Ringworm
Here are some of the best essential oil blends for ringworm relief…
Blend 1: Quick Tinea Rub
- 3 drops Thyme
- 5 drops Rosemary
- 5 drops Oregano
- 4 drops Myrrh
- 1 oz. sweet Almond oil
The great thing about essential oils is that, following dilution in a carrier, they can be applied directly to the skin and they seep in to deliver maximum benefits. So if you suspect a ringworm infection coming on and can already see some rashes, mix all the above oils in a small glass container and massage onto the affected area.
Blend 2: Ringworm Rash Relief Formula
- 10 drops Tea tree
- 8 drops Frankincense
- 5 drops Lavender
- 7 drops Lemongrass
- 4 drops Eucalyptus
- 2 oz. Jojoba oil
One of the symptoms of tinea includes having dry, itchy and inflamed skin. To get relief for these symptoms, start by mixing all the essential oils first before adding in the carrier oil. Apply the blend on the affected area and massage gently three times a day.
Blend 3: Anti-Ringworm Herbal Tea Infusion
- Goldenseal or Lemongrass Tea
- Ginger cloves
- Hot water
Both lemongrass and goldenseal tea contains antifungal, antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties that can help get rid of the symptoms of ringworm.
Here’s a great way to help beat ringworm from the inside. Whether you use goldenseal or lemongrass, these herbal teas will help boost your immune system as well as provide additional medicinal benefits. Add in the lemongrass tea leaves or goldenseal powder/roots and ginger to boiling water. Let it simmer for about 10 minutes, turn off the heat and let it cool. Drink while warm.
You can also use a Q-tip to dip it in the mixture and apply to the affected areas.
Blend 4: Ringworm B-Gone Blend
- 4 drops Peppermint
- 6 drops Garlic
- 5 drops Geranium
- 3 drops Manuka
- 1 oz. Coconut oil
Blend in the essential oils in the carrier oil and store in a dark glass bottle. Apply a few drops of the blend on the affected area up to three times a day.
How To Get Rid Of Ringworm Naturally / Home Remedies For Ringworm
In addition to taking all the preventive measures I’ve mentioned above, there are several other things you could also do at home. Below is a list of home remedies that could help you both treat and prevent further ringworm infections.
1. Soap and Hot Water
That’s right; in the battle against ringworm and other similar infection, your best weapon is good old regular soap and water. Whether in children or adults, Dermatophytosis can be totally avoided by observing the basics such as washing your hands often. It also helps to have antibacterial soap or body wash to bathe with. It prevents the infection from catching root and multiplying.
And if you already suspect you have ringworm, nothing changes. You’ll need to keep the affected as clean as possible – be it face, groin, or feet. Washing with hot water and antifungal soap at least several times a day will help prevent any further spread and keep thing under control. Similarly, you’ll need to wash the area before applying any other topical medication or home remedies. After your shower, dry the area thoroughly – moist spots will encourage the fungus to grow.
2. Apple Cider Vinegar
Here’s another universal home remedy that seems to cure almost everything. But there’s a good reason why ACV is among one of the most potent home remedies for anything bacterial or fungal related. A 2018 study showed that apple cider vinegar demonstrates potent antibacterial, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and antifungal properties which all collaborate to keep an area clean and prevent infections from spreading.
But perhaps more important to our topic today is the antifungal component found in ACV that specifically works against candida and ringworm-causing fungi like Microsporum and Trichophyton. As such, it could be a valuable ally in the treatment and prevention of ringworm infections.
To use ACV, dip a cotton ball in the vinegar and wring it to avoid dripping. Next, place the ball on the affected area and leave it for about 10-20 minutes – use a cotton ball and band-aid to hold it in place.
As a rule of thumb, you never want bleach on your skin. But who’d have thought that this disinfectant could be used to treat ringworm? Bleach is a potent disinfectant used to clean, disinfect, and kill germs on clothes and surfaces around the house. But while we can use this to help eliminate fungus responsible for causing ringworm, I’d advise you to use it for bleaching clothes and clean surfaces.
But if you have some handy and want to use it on areas of your skin infected by ringworm, you have to take some precautionary measures. Bleach can irritate sensitive skin and cause a burning sensation when used in high concentrations. To use bleach for dermatophytosis, mix it equally with water and soak a cotton ball in the solution. Wring it and swab the affected area being careful not to get any on unaffected skin. Do not rinse off the area immediately; instead, let it dry naturally. Reapply once every day until the ringworm clears up.
4. Powdered Licorice
Licorice is one of the most frequently used herbs in traditional Chinese medicine. In addition to being sweet, it actually demonstrates potent anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and antifungal properties. So if you have some around the house, here’s how you can use powdered licorice as a home remedy for tinea.
Start by mixing about 3 tablespoons of powder licorice root in a cup of water. This recipe involves a few stages. Once mixed, bring the mixture to a boil and simmer down for at least 10 minutes. Allow the liquid to cool down. Once it cools, it should form a paste that you will apply to the ringworm rash two times a day. Apply and let the paste sit for about 20 mins before wiping or rinsing off.
5. Garlic and Turmeric
Garlic has been used in the past to treat all kinds of infections. But while there aren’t any specific studies that have been carried out to show the effects of garlic on ringworm, other studies have shown that garlic is a proven antifungal agent against several types of fungi including Aspergillus niger, Candida albicans, Candida glabrata, C. tropicalis, Trichophyton mentagrophytes, Tricosporon beigelii, and Saccharomyces cerevisiae.
To use garlic, crush a few cloves and blend it with olive or coconut oil. Apply the paste on affected skin and cover with gauze. Leave in place for a couple hours before rinsing.
Similarly, turmeric also contains curcumin which has antimicrobial, antiviral and anti-fungal abilities. You can either use turmeric as a tea or add it to your meals for more benefits. You can also mix it in water or coconut oil for topical application.
6. Coconut Oil
Due to its numerous, health boosting abilities, coconut oil has become a staple in many alternative remedies. Today, it’s used treat a plethora of ailments, injuries, and more importantly, infections. Used to its full potential, coconut oil can help get rid of ringworms as well as keep the signs and symptoms under control.
But what makes coconut oil one of the best overall remedies for ringworm is the fact that it attacks the infection from different angles. For starters, coconut oil contains potent antimicrobial and antifungal properties that have been shown to eliminate mild or superficial fungal related infections. When used topically and on the regular, it could help prevent or lower the risk of fungus infections. Research actually shows that coconut oil is (even on its own) more effective when it comes to treating drug resistant candida species than some medications.
Most of the medicinal value of coconut oil comes from lauric acid and antimicrobial lipids located in the mid chain fatty acids; and they’re too potent and effective to be ignored.
Coconut oil also contains antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and moisturizing benefits that all create the perfect trifecta when dealing with any skin problems. These combine to provide the skin with additional moisture which soothes the skin’s dryness, flakiness and irritation reducing the healing time dramatically.
So in addition to faster healing, coconut oil also rejuvenates the skin and restores it to better than original. The anti-inflammatory compounds also help decrease the redness and lesions while reducing other visible symptoms of ringworm.
How To Use Coconut Oil For Ringworm Infection?
If we’re talking home remedies for dermatophytosis, nothing is easier and more natural than coconut oil. I mean, there’s literally no way that you can go wrong with this carrier oil. Even if you use too much, there’s absolutely no risk of irritating your skin whatsoever. This makes using coconut oil to treat Tinea extremely easy.
To use coconut oil for ringworm, start by cleaning and drying the area of your skin that has been affected by the infection. Likewise, clean your hands or disinfect them so you don’t spread the fungus to other parts of your body.
Apply the melted coconut oil on the affected area massaging it in thoroughly. Of course, this is no miracle cure – don’t expect it to work the same day you start. It’ll take a while before the symptoms improve and begin to clear. And even then, you’ll need to use coconut oil after treatment to prevent re-infection. Repeat the application about 4 times a day for maximum benefits.
Alternative medical experts advise combining coconut oil with other antimicrobial, antifungal, and antibacterial agents so as to help increase its effectiveness. As the recipes above have shown, mixing it with essential oils like tea tree, oregano, thyme, lemongrass and many others allows the resulting blend to work more efficiently towards a common goal. However, make sure to see a doctor if your symptoms do not improve within 2 weeks.
How To Get Rid Of Ringworm Permanently
If there’s one infection that is almost impossible to permanently eliminate, it’s got to be ringworm. It’s incredibly contagious and more common than you think. So even if you were to succeed and treat your dermatophytosis, there’s still a chance that you could get re-infected again and again and again. So, how on earth do you get rid of ringworm once and for all?
There is no vaccine to prevent you from contracting ringworm, so you can forget about any one treatment being permanent or long term. You could be squeaky clean coming out of your home and touch some infected equipment at school or at the gym.
And if it’s not today, then you’ll still be back at the gym, school, or swimming pool another day ready to potentially be infected all over again. Of course, you can’t live in a bubble where you won’t ever be exposed to bacteria and fungi. So as hard as it may be to hear, there’s no way you’re going to treat ringworm permanently. What you can do is treat that particular infection at the time and try to keep further infections at bay.
Ringworm can be upsetting, is unsightly and can cause uncomfortable symptoms, but it’s treatable. Fortunately, it can be avoided by simple preventative measures such as: maintaining good hygiene and health, keeping your skin dry and clean, avoid sharing personal equipment, wear sandals or footwear at pool areas and gyms and avoid touching pets that have bald patches.
By following the above prevention and treatment measures, you’ll be that much closer to never having another ringworm infection again.