Ringworm is one of the most commonly diagnosed types of infections. If you’ve been in close contact with anyone who has picked up ringworm or you’ve been near anything it might have infected such as soil that contains it, you might have contracted ringworm yourself – and your symptoms will start to show a few days to weeks after exposure to ringworm.
It’s nothing to be worried about. Ringworm isn’t as toxic as many other types of infections and conditions that you could contract, but having ringworm could still be very dangerous to your health and lead to a lot of different health issues.
If you suspect that you might have ringworm, it’s important to do something about it as soon as you can. Luckily, there are many easy-to-follow home treatments that have been proven to work – and can get rid of ringworm in no time without the use of harmful chemicals.
1. Watch for Signs and Symptoms
The first thing you should do is to keep an eye out for the signs and symptoms of ringworm. Sometimes the very beginnings of a ringworm infection somewhere in the body can resemble that of a rash, allergy or eczema – but ringworm is called this because it won’t make a typical rash, but instead appear as a round “ring” on the skin.
This is the one sign that’s characteristic of getting ringworm. If you see this, you can be more or less 99% sure that this is what you’ve picked up – and the first thing you should do is to check everyone you have been in close contact with for the same signs.
The area targeted by the ringworm is likely to be persistently itchy and red from the start of the infection, with the itching being worse during nighttime or when agitated by clothing.
Once you’ve established that you have ringworm, you can start to find ways to treat it.
2. Keep the Area Clean and Dry
One of the first and most important things to do if you’ve contracted ringworm is to keep the area clean and dry for as much as possible, at least for several proper cleaning sessions per day. Take the same care with ringworm that you would with a recent piercing, and clean it the same way.
While picking up ringworm in the first place is no reflection on cleanliness or hygiene, it’s a good idea to keep the site of the ringworm as clean as possible from the moment you realize you have it. This can help to avoid agitating the area, and it can stop it from turning into an infection from there.
Keeping the area clean and sterile can be done with simple alcohol spray, and sometimes this can be enough to get rid of ringworm in the early stages if it’s repeated for several days in a row to a few weeks.
3. Make Use of White Spirit Vinegar
White spirit vinegar is one of the best natural products that you can have in your cupboard, and there are a thousand different things that you can do with it in and around the house – including using it for cooking, but also not limited to using it in the kitchen.
White spirit vinegar is one of the best possible things that you can use for cleaning: It can sometimes be the only thing that gets oily stains broken down – or the best thing to get rid of an overpowering smell in fabric.
But you can also do a lot more with it. White spirit vinegar happens to be one of the things that work best for naturally getting rid of conditions like ringworm – and if you have it in the house anyway (and most people do), start putting it to use the moment you suspect ringworm.
Clean the area thoroughly and dab with white spirit vinegar (or alternatively apple cider) to get rid of a ringworm infection without the use of medications or chemicals in just a few weeks.
4. Use Apple Cider Vinegar Instead
White spirit vinegar is a great thing to have around the house – and it works for a variety of different household uses like cleaning or health-related uses like adding to a bath – but you can’t do nearly as much with white spirit vinegar as you can with apple cider vinegar.
The good news is that both of these options work just as well for getting rid of a ringworm infection. All you have to do is clean the area a few times per day and dab the area with either apple cider vinegar or white spirit: It depends what you have in the house and what you have access to when you first notice the infection.
If you don’t traditionally keep apple cider vinegar in the house, start now. It can be applied to a few health-related uses, including drinking a spoonful in a glass of water to balance stomach pH levels or to settle a restless or unhappy stomach.
5. Dab the Area with Saline Solution
Saline solution sounds like something that’s a lot fancier, more expensive and clinical than it really is. Actually, the term saline solution just refers to a simple salt solution – and you can make this at home using simple lukewarm water and a pinch of table salt dissolved in it for the best effect.
It’s usually what’s recommended to use when you’re cleaning piercings or tattoos; sometimes doctors will recommend the use of saline solution during post-operative healing in order to help clean wounds better.
There are many other uses for saline solution that means you should have it as part of your first-aid kit at all times. One of the most important, of course, is the fact that it’s one of the best ways to get rid of ringworm in a hurry – just a few days worth of cleaning the area with saline solution should do the trick, and if it doesn’t, there are still a couple of things on this list you can try.
6. Never Scratch or Pick
One of the first things you’ll hear from your doctor when you’ve developed a rash, have a chronic skin condition, have been bitten by an insect or have picked up a condition like ringworm is this: Don’t scratch it. It’s true for ringworm and it’s true for measles.
It’s also true for a variety of different conditions that can affect your skin. Even though you might have the urge to scratch, treatment is the only thing that can make ringworm go away. Picking and scratching will only irritate the site further, and this can open up the opportunity for you to scratch through the skin – and an infection could enter through this, turning a small problem into a much more dangerous (and potentially fatal) situation.
Scratching at it doesn’t help. Ever. Instead, proceed with treatment and resist the urge to scratch at ringworm (and most other skin conditions) as much as possible.
7. Remember Other Risk Factors
Scratching and picking at a potential ringworm infection isn’t the only behavior that you should be avoiding when you suspect you’ve contracted it. There are a few other things that can immediately make the condition feel worse – and it can lead to a range of further medical issues that includes an infection getting under the skin and into the body where it can cause very serious internal harm.
Small things that can irritate ringworm further includes tight-fitting clothing that scratches against it, or the washing powder used against the skin. These are factors that can’t cause ringworm, but certainly things that aren’t going to make the condition any better. Speak to your doctor if you aren’t sure what might irritate your ringworm – or use a process of elimination to figure this out while it heals.
Avoid anything that might irritate your skin or expose your skin to irritants. It increases the changes that your ringworm is a lot harder to deal with.
8. Clean Clothing and Bedding
If you know that you have ringworm, one of the most important things for you to do first is to make sure you clean all of your clothing and bedding using extremely warm water and (if you have it around the house) spirit or apple cider vinegar.
Ringworm has the potential to spread from infected items to other people: That’s how you got it in the first place, and it likely happened a couple of weeks before your first symptoms started to show.
A ringworm infection can fast turn into a cycle where you keep reinfecting people around you, or where you keep reinfecting yourself with the same condition by not making sure you’ve gotten rid of all traces that accompany it.
If you work with large numbers of people (especially children), you’re at an automatically higher risk of carrying ringworm home from work: Be aware of the risk and clean all clothing thoroughly by default.
9. Check Everyone Else
If you’ve picked up ringworm, it’s likely that you might have it spread to people around you – and if you are sharing a house or workspace with anyone, keep this in mind as you travel between home and work (and between rooms in the house).
At the first signs of ringworm, it’s a good idea to check everyone else around you to find out if they’re experiencing any of the same symptoms you are. Should this be the case, it’s a given that you should all be following the same treatments on this list – or you’re going to take the risk of all ending up giving one another the same condition again in the matter of a few weeks.
If you work in an environment with a lot of people, keep the potential reinfection in mind as you go to work – and make sure that you’ve sterilized anything that might cause ringworm to spread before you move the same infection into your home from there.
10. A Warm and Herbal Bath
A warm and herbal bath is one of the first things your doctor or therapist will recommend if you’re trying to relax your body – or get rid of the feeling of tense and tired muscles after a rough week or a hard day. But of course, it’s not the only use that a herbal-enhanced bath can be good for – and there are studies that show that the right combination of herbs can have a great effect on skin conditions like ringworm.
First, the water helps because it hydrates and cleans the skin. Second, the combination of herbs can help to rid the skin of ringworm – and leave you feeling a lot better afterward.
It’s up to you what type of herbs you prefer to add: Ones like peppermint and spearmint are useful, but should be avoided if you have any kind of heart conditional. A few drops of a strong essential oil to your bath together with some of the methods on this list can be a great help when it comes to combating a ringworm infection.
Remember to clean the bath properly – and rinse twice – when you’re done before the next person gets to use it to prevent any chances of a spreading infection.