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Ringworm is a common skin infection caused by a fungus. Discover the symptoms, causes and what you can do.

What is ringworm?

Ringworm is a common skin infection. Despite its name, it’s caused by a fungus – and has nothing to do with worms! It passes easily from person to person through skin contact, or from infected towels, bedding, surfaces or another person’s clothes. Sometimes ringworm can be picked up from soil or animals, too.

Symptoms of ringworm

  • Skin that’s reddened, flaky and scaly

  • Itchy skin

  • Usually ringworm forms a circular shape, often with a paler area in the centre

What does ringworm look like?

Most commonly there’s a single circular rash, but sometimes the fungus spreads and forms multiple patches of ringworm rashes.

Ringworm rashes can occur anywhere on the body, including the face, neck back and groin.

Sometimes ringworm affects the scalp. If this happens, there can be patchy areas of hair loss where the rash is.

How to treat ringworm

An antifungal treatment is needed to treat ringworm. Creams with the active ingredient clotrimazole or miconazole are available over the counter at a pharmacy, or you can get it on prescription from a GP.

Ringworm treatments need to be applied twice daily, and consistently for a period of several weeks, to completely eradicate the fungus.

If the ringworm isn’t clearing up adequately with anti-fungal ringworm treatments, or is spreading across a very large area of the body, then a GP may consider a prescription of antifungal tablets.

When to see a GP

  • If you’re unsure if the rash you have is ringworm or not

  • If you’ve used an antifungal cream for two weeks and the rash is not improving

  • If you have ringworm rashes affecting your scalp and it’s causing hair loss

  • If you have a medical condition causing a weakened immune system, or are taking medication which suppresses the immune system.

Reviewed by:

Dr Rhianna McClymont

Lead GP at Livi

Last updated: