Human skin can be temperamental. We're unlikely to get through our lives without getting some kind of unpleasant rash or fungal infection. While this isn't particularly nice, these infections can usually be treated at home. Ringworm, also known as jock itch or athlete's foot, depending on the affected area, is a common skin problem. The name might strike horror into your heart, bringing to mind ideas of insidious parasites and invasive medical treatment.
However, ringworm isn't related to any kind of parasite. It's a common fungal infection, caused by a type of fungus living in dead tissue.
Ringworm has distinctive symptoms. It spreads quickly with close contact between humans and animals, and is commonly spread in public showers, locker rooms and swimming pools. When you get ringworm, it can quickly be transferred to other parts of your body. The affected skin comes red, dry, and scaly, and itches severely. There's also the trademark rash. This comes in the form of a red ring at the edge of the rash, spreading outward.
While it isn't pleasant, and may feel a little personal, this skin health condition can be easy to treat at home. You don't always need a doctor to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Let's discuss a few natural remedies for ringworm that you can use to ease your symptoms.
1. Keep the Area Dry and Clean
Regardless of what you're trying for treating a ringworm problem, it's important to keep the affected area dry and clean. Wash your hands, then clean the area thoroughly with soap and water before you apply any products, and dry thoroughly with a soft towel.
Beware of towels and other garments spreading the fungal infection to other areas of your body. It's also important to let your skin breathe. While you may be tempted to tightly cover up the rash to prevent infection, bandages or tight clothes can make you sweat. They also lock in moisture, which only inflames this health condition.
This is especially important if your ringworm has arisen in a tricky area. For example, athlete's foot infections on the feet can be susceptible to moisture. You should keep these areas dry and clean as much as you can.
2. Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil is a powerful essential oil and popular home remedy, known for its antifungal and disinfecting properties. It can help to soothe itching, prevent the problem from spreading, and prevent further infections.
Using a cotton ball or swab, apply a few drops of tea tree oil to the affected area. Repeat two or three times a day. Gently swipe the ball or swab over the area. You may feel a light stinging or tingling, but this should fade very quickly.
However, if you have sensitive skin, you may want to consider diluting the tea tree oil. Coconut oil can work very well as a diluting oil, and it has antifungal assets of its own. Tea tree oil and coconut oil are often used together.
3. Apple Cider Vinegar
Just like tea tree oil, apple cider vinegar has powerful antifungal properties, making it ideal for treating ringworm. Soak a cotton wool ball in undiluted apple cider vinegar, and gently dab over the affected area. Do this three times a day.
Like many treatments, apple cider vinegar may not work for everyone. Keep a close eye on your problem area. If there doesn't seem to be any improvement in the ringworm within a few weeks, you may need to try something else.
4. Aloe Vera
A well-known remedy to ease burns and rashes, aloe vera can work well on ringworm. If you keep an aloe vera plant in your home, you can snip off the ends of the leaves and rub the gel onto the area that's infected with ringworm.
Otherwise, you can easily find gels and creams containing aloe vera gel. Aloe vera has antifungal and antibacterial properties. It works to reduce inflammation and soothe itchiness and discomfort. This can be very helpful to deal with the unpleasant symptoms of a ringworm infection.
5. Coconut Oil
Coconut oil can be an especially helpful form of treatment when dealing with scalp ringworm. It has soothing, antifungal properties, that can help ease the itchiness of ringworm. It can also help to condition your hair and smooth your skin.
Warm up the coconut oil before applying it to your skin. Either microwave the oil or rub in your hands until it becomes a liquid. Then rub it gently into the infected area.
6. Lemongrass Oil
Known for its powerful citrus scent, lemongrass oil extract, when mixed with a carrier oil, is another treatment that can help to ease the symptoms of ringworm. Mix in a few drops of lemongrass oil with the carrier oil, and gently apply to the infected area twice daily.
Aside from having antifungal properties, lemongrass has a pleasing smell that can help you feel clean and refreshed. Ringworm can also carry a dry, yeasty scent that can be annoying. An oil like lemongrass can help to get rid of that scent.
Turmeric is another well-known antibacterial element. It also has anti-inflammatory properties, which is ideal for handling skin infections such as ringworm. You can drink turmeric tea or add turmeric to your food. However, to get the benefits on a fungus infection like ringworm, you will need to apply the spice directly to your skin.
To create a paste, mix turmeric with a small amount of water. When mixed, this will create a thick paste. Apply the paste to the affected area. Leave it in place for several minutes or until the paste has fully dried, then wash it away with water. Repeat twice daily.
Be aware that turmeric can have a dyeing effect, leaving behind an orange or yellow tinge. When treating ringworm, don't apply it too often to your skin.
8. Oregano Oil
This is a powerful antifungal oil, known for being one of the best home remedies to treat ringworm and other fungal infections. It can also help to prevent existing ringworm from spreading further.
Similar to lemongrass oil, oregano oil needs to be mixed with a carrier oil. Coconut or olive oil creates a soothing formula that hydrates skin, and coconut oil can be especially nourishing when used on the head. Mix a few drops of oregano oil into the carrier oil, and use a cotton ball or swab to apply to the affected area.
You can repeat this process up to three times per day. As always, do a patch test before trying a new essential oil. If your skin is especially sensitive, you may want to use less of the essential oil and more of the carrier oil, to create a milder solution.
9. Antifungal Soaps and Shampoo
Antifungal shampoos can help to ease the symptoms of scalp ringworm infections. They can even help to prevent the infection from spreading. However, cases of ringworm on the scalp are especially unpleasant. It can lead to hair loss and even permanent scarring. If you think you have ringworm on your head, it's good to seek medical advice, to get it treated as soon as possible.
Antifungal soaps can be a good treatment to use in tandem with other ringworm treatments. Keeping your skin clean and dry between treatments is essential to proper recovery. Using an antifungal soap can nourish your skin, while helping to keep the ringworm down.
10. Topical Antifungals
If natural remedies such as essential oils and antifungal soaps aren't working, you may need to try something stronger. Topical antifungal medicine comes in powder form, or as lotions or creams, and is easily available in most pharmacies.
Powder antifungals, for example, are popular for use on athlete's foot infections. The powder can be applied after the foot is thoroughly washed and dried. Powders can even be sprinkled inside shoes, socks, or slippers.
Antifungal creams and lotions are powerful and simple to use. Simply spread a thin layer of the cream into the affected area and gently rub it in. This should be repeated two or three times per day. This can kill the fungus and prevent the infection from spreading. Look for products containing ingredients such as clotrimazole or miconazole.
While you should begin to see results very quickly, it's important to read the instructions carefully. If you're instructed to keep applying the cream every day for, say, six days, be sure to follow the guidelines, even if you begin to feel better. However, the itchiness and inflammation should begin to subside very quickly, giving you much-needed relief.
When to See a Doctor
In some cases, you might need something more than a natural remedy to treat certain types of fungal infections. With treatment, ringworm should begin to clear up after two weeks. While it's possible that your health problem might be unresponsive to the treatment you're using, ringworm infections that don't respond to topical antifungal products and last longer than two weeks should be looked at by a doctor, who can provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
In most cases, this just means that you're unlucky enough to have one of the particularly virulent cases of ringworm. If your ringworm keeps recurring, it might be a good idea to speak to a doctor about how to treat ringworm in the long run and get rid of your fungal infections permanently.
If you work in a situation where you could spread the infection to others, it might also be wise to consult a doctor. While this type of health condition usually isn't because of any negligence on your part, ringworm is highly contagious, and needs to be dealt with as quickly as possible.
In conclusion, while ringworm is an unpleasant and sometimes embarrassing problem, it can be easily dealt with. You can reduce your chances of ringworm by washing your skin thoroughly and drying yourself well afterward.
This can be tricky with certain areas - between the toes, for example, or between skin folds. If you're concerned about overlooking areas, take a little extra time after getting out of the bath and shower to dry yourself well. If you do have a ringworm health problem, don't share personal items like towels, clothes, and hairbrushes, avoid wearing tight clothes, and make sure to wear sandals in public showers.
A ringworm infection can happen to anyone. It can be embarrassing and cause you discomfort and even pain. However, plenty of treatments are available. Your health and wellness is the most important thing, here, and you don't need to suffer in silence!