Your doctor might be able to diagnose ringworm simply by looking at it. Your doctor may take skin scrapings from the affected area so that they can be examined under a microscope.
If over-the-counter treatments don't work, you may need prescription-strength antifungal medications — such as a lotion, cream or ointment that you apply to the affected skin. If your infection is particularly severe or extensive, your doctor might prescribe antifungal pills.
Lifestyle and home remedies
For a mild case of ringworm, try these self-care tips.
- Keep the affected area clean and dry.
- Apply an over-the-counter antifungal lotion, cream or ointment such as clotrimazole (Lotrimin AF) or terbinafine (Lamisil AT) as directed on the packaging.
Preparing for your appointment
Your family doctor or a skin specialist (dermatologist) can diagnose ringworm of the body. Here are some tips to help you get ready for your appointment.
What you can do
Your time with your doctor is limited, so preparing a list of questions helps you make the most of your appointment. List your questions from most important to least important in case time runs out. For ringworm, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:
- What might be causing the signs and symptoms?
- Are tests needed to confirm the diagnosis?
- What is the best treatment?
- Is this condition temporary or chronic?
- Is there a generic alternative to the medicine you're prescribing?
- Can I wait to see if the condition goes away on its own?
- What can I do to prevent the infection from spreading?
- What skin care routines do you recommend while the condition heals?
What to expect from your doctor
Your doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions, such as:
- When did you first notice your symptoms?
- What did the rash look like when it first started?
- Have you had this type of rash in the past?
- Does a pet or family member already have ringworm?
- Is the rash painful or itchy?
- Have you used any medications on it already? If so, what?
Sept. 13, 2019
- Allmon A, et al. Common skin rashes in children. American Family Physician. 2015;92:211.
- Ferri FF. Tinea corporis. In: Ferri's Clinical Advisor 2020. Elsevier; 2020. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Aug. 8, 2019.
- Office of Patient Education. Fungal infection: Ringworm of the body. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2010.
- Goldstein AO, et al. Dermatophyte (tinea) infections. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/search. Accessed Aug. 12, 2019.
- AskMayoExpert. Superficial fungal infection. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2019.
- Ringworm risk and prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/fungal/diseases/ringworm/risk-prevention.html. Accessed Aug. 12, 2019.