Ringworm – also known as dermatophytosis – is a skin infection caused not by a worm, but by mold like fungi that live on the dead tissues of your skin, hair, and nails. The infection is characterized by a circular, itchy rash on the skin, which usually scales at the edges.


Most infections come from contact with animals, (cats, dogs, guinea pigs and rabbits) but you can also get infected by humans. You can get infected in swimming pools, gyms or changing rooms. Ringworm can also occur in the scalp, when it is called tinea capitis.


As a rule, you can treat ringworm yourself with fungicidal ointment.


Ringworm is an infection caused by a filamentous fungus, called dermatophytes, which can penetrate the skin if you have an impaired immune system or sensitive skin. The skin is especially sensitive if you have a wound or eczema, but even if you sweat a lot, the sweat flushes fungicidal oils from the skin and makes it more vulnerable to infection.


Ringworm is usually transmitted from animals to humans, but can also transmit from humans to humans.


Ringworms usually cause circular skin rash that itch. It is often located on the face, chest, arms and legs. The incubation period, (the time between the onset of infection and the symptoms), can vary from a few days to a few weeks.


The rash often has a red, raised edge that can be dry and scaly. The skin inside the ring can become red and bumpy but sometimes looks quite normal. The size varies from a few millimeters to several centimeters in diameter. The rash gradually becomes larger and can flow together. In severe cases, the infection can lead to deep ulcers.


If your scalp itches, it may also be a sign of ringworm. Then you can get bald spots or scaly rash in the hair. The same symptoms may occur if you have ringworm in your beard.


Not all red, itchy rashes are a sign of ringworm. They can also be caused by other types of skin fungi. Psoriasis and various types of eczema, such as atopic eczema, can cause similar symptoms.


It could even be a viral infection, such as “medallion disease”.

Prevention and protection

If you have ringworm, you can treat it by yourself with an ointment available at pharmacies. 


Ringworms are most often transmitted from animals to humans and therefore it is important also to treat any pets with ringworms. If you work with animals on a farm, cows, pigs or other animals may need treatment. An animal with ringworm can get red, scaly and itchy skin – contact a veterinarian for diagnosis and treatment.


Here’s how to reduce the risk of infection spreading:


  • Avoid direct contact with infected persons
  • Refrain from contact sports in the event of any infection


Seek care for your pets if they have symptoms of ringworm.


Ringworms are usually treated with fungicidal ointment. If the ointment does not help, you may need prescription medicines.


In case of severe or particularly widespread symptoms, a culture test may be required to confirm an accurate diagnosis. Long-term problems may need to be further investigated to exclude other illnesses.


In the case of ringworm of the scalp, tests are often needed before treatment is started.


Since animals often carry the infection, pets should also be examined by a veterinarian and possibly treated.

When to consult a doctor

If you have a rash that covers large areas of the skin or if, despite non-prescription treatment, you don’t get better after two weeks, you should see a doctor.

How APPOTEK can help

APPOTEK can help with ringworm. A nurse or doctor will make an individual assessment based on your symptoms during the consultation. You may then be prescribed medication or referred for further treatment. If your child has a problem, he or she will need to attend the consultation.


Valeria Chernikova, Neurologist, M.D.