Your doctor might be able to diagnose ringworm simply by looking at it. If the diagnosis isn't clear-cut, he or she may want to take some skin scrapings from the affected area so they can be examined under a microscope.
If over-the-counter treatments don't work, you may need prescription-strength antifungal medications — such as creams or lotions 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, you can apply an over-the-counter antifungal lotion or cream. Examples include clotrimazole (Lotrimin AF) and terbinafine (Lamisil AT).
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?