Despite its name, ringworm isn’t actually caused by a worm or parasite. It’s a fairly common kind of infection, caused by fungus, that leads to a ring-shaped rash.

Although it can crop up nearly anywhere on the body, the infection usually affects legs and arms. It’s part of a family of fungal infections known as ‘tinea’ that can affect places like the feet, groin, nails and scalp.

Our GPs can examine your rash, talk through your symptoms and if needed, prescribe anti-fungal medicine to help clear up the infection.

The main symptom of ringworm in humans is the appearance of a red or silver-coloured rash surrounded by inflamed skin, which tends to be itchy.

However, in more serious cases, symptoms can include:

  • More rings appearing
  • Rings merging together
  • Rings becoming even more inflamed
  • Sores and blisters forming in the area
  • If ringworm crops up on the neck or face areas, it won’t always be ring-shaped, but tends to swell and become itchy.

Ringworm that affects the hand will often cause a thickening of the skin between fingers or on the palm.

Since ringworm requires anti-fungal medication (usually a cream) to treat, you’ll need to consult a GP - since this is only available via prescription.

Onset: Varies

Ringworm is spread through skin-to-skin contact with someone who already has the condition, or by coming into contact with items that have been used by infected people, like clippers at a barber.

After being infected, symptoms usually appear within a week or two.

Recovery: Two weeks to a month

Once you’ve got the necessary medication to treat ringworm infections, they should clear up within a couple of weeks to a month.

However, if left untreated, ringworm can spread to other areas of the body and its symptoms will become more intense.

It’s also very contagious, so you will be at risk of spreading the infection to others the longer you let it go untreated.

As mentioned, you’ll need to talk to a doctor to get the necessary anti-fungal medication needed to treat it, so if you think you might have ringworm - see a GP as soon as possible.