Is Ringworm Contagious After Starting Treatment?

Ringworm is a skin infection that is caused by fungus. The infection presents itself as an itchy red ring-like rash which gives rise to the name ringworm. Ringworm goes by different names depending on the part of the body that is infected. In the case of ringworm infection in the foot, it is referred to as athlete’s foot.

People often wonder for how long is ringworm contagious. The truth is that anyone is at risk of contracting ringworm from another person. The fungus that causes the infection lives on various surfaces such as clothes, bedding, towels and the skin. As such, anyone whose skin comes into contact with ringworm infected surfaces can easily contract the disease.

Ways in which ringworm can be spread

  • If one’s skin gets into contact with the skin of an infected person
  • If one touches materials such as clothes and personal items of an infected person
  • If one’s skin gets into contact with the skin of an infected animal
  • If one touches soil that has the disease-causing-fungus

What causes ringworm?

Ringworm can be caused by various types of fungi. The fungi responsible for this infection are those that thrive in warm and humid conditions. Such conditions can be found in the outer layer of the hair, the skin, and the nails. If ringworm-causing-fungi find favorable conditions, they feed off the keratin and grow outward forming a ring. New infections start forming at the center of old infections, causing the ring to grow bigger with time.

Ringworm diagnosis

Given that ringworm has similar symptoms as compared to other skin rashes, it is necessary for one exhibiting such symptoms to seek proper medical attention. Once the required culture tests have been carried out, a doctor will be able to tell whether it is ringworm or not and the necessary actions can be taken.

How does ringworm manifest itself?

Ringworm can appear on various body parts and it is important for one to be aware of the signs that accompany it so that one can seek medical attention if deemed necessary. The infection starts out as a circular red inflamed patch of the skin. With time, the patch grows bigger. In some cases, the infection takes place in one part of the body, while in other cases it takes place in various parts. The infected part could be very itchy.

  • On the feet

The infection causes redness and itchiness between the toes and the infected person suffers great discomfort from the itchiness. The skin also becomes swollen and flaky. In severe cases, blisters can form between the toes, causing great pain to the infected person.

  • On the scalp

If the infection occurs on the scalp, it is likely that the patient will suffer hair loss, which is accompanied by itching as well as blisters on the scalp.

  • On the groin

The skin becomes scaly, itchy and it may have red spots.

  • On the beard

The infection causes the skin to become scaly and red spots may appear.

In some cases, it may be filled with pus and become crusty.

For how long is ringworm contagious?

Ringworm is contagious for as long as the infected person does not receive treatment. The infection could take several months to clear up on its own and, as such, the infection could easily be spread to other people. It is also possible to spread the infection whilst it is still in its incubation stage.

For how long is ringworm contagious after starting treatment?

If one receives treatment at the onset of ringworm symptoms, one cannot pass the infection on to other people after the next 24 to 48 hours. One is required to continue with treatment for about two weeks to one month even after the symptoms have subsided. If one does not follow through with the medication, it is likely that the symptoms could reappear and as such, one would be contagious to other people.

How to treat ringworm

The infection is mostly treated through the use of antifungal topical creams. These can be administered through prescriptions or over the counter. It is advisable to seek medical help when one notices the symptoms of ringworm so that the severity of the case can be established.

In some cases, the doctor may recommend that the patient takes oral antifungal medications alongside the topical creams.

Some cases, such as scalp ringworms, require medical attention as most of the over the counter creams may not be effective on such infections. One is no longer contagious within one to two days of starting treatment, though the rash can take up to a month for it to clear up.

In addition to the medical treatments, we can use some home remedies to help clear the rash and reduce the itchiness associated with the infection. Different types of pastes can be made using readily available materials and applied to the infected area to ease the discomfort. Such remedies include:

  1. Garlic paste

Garlic paste to treat ringworm

2. Apple cider vinegar

Apple cider vinegar to treat ringwrom

3. Tea tree oil

Tea tree oil to treat ringwrom

4. Turmeric juice

Turmeric juice to treat ringworm

5. Vinegar and salt

Vinegar and salt to treat ringworm

6. Aloe Vera

Aloe Vera to treat ringworm

One should take caution when administering these home remedies as some, such as apple cider vinegar, can cause an allergic reaction.

Preventative measures to avoid contracting ringworm

  • Ringworm is mostly spread through sharing of personal items. For one to avoid getting this infection, it is necessary to avoid such practices.
  • It is also important for an infected person to avoid scratching the infected area as this can easily spread the infection.
  • Washing hands after handling the infected area is also a key to ensuring that the virus is not passed on to other people.
  • While in the gym, one should ensure that his or her feet are covered to avoid getting into contact with the floor.

For people wondering how long ringworm is contagious after starting treatment, they should be aware that if the treatment starts early, the infection is only contagious for a day or two. Thereafter, the infection cannot be spread as long as the proper medication is taken as directed by the doctor. Prevention of ringworm is possible if the appropriate measures are taken, especially by people who live in humid areas.

Sources and References

  1. NCBI Fungal Disease in Britain and the United States
  2. NYC Department of Health Ringworm
  3. CDC Ringworm Information for Healthcare Professionals

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