Ringworm is a fungal infection spread by humans and animals through skin-to-skin contact. Although some people do not show visible symptoms of the fungus or may have their visible symptoms go away for a time, without treatment the fungus that causes the rash will remain present on the skin. Because it is fungal in nature, ringworm will not go away on its own.
While most commonly occurring fungi do not cause problems for the skin, ringworm is one that does. Because of the skin-to-skin nature of its transmission, it is commonly contracted in places where people have a great deal of physical exposure to one another. Infections frequently occur in schools and when playing contact sports such as wrestling.
There are some things people can do to cut down on the risk of getting ringworm, but there is no absolute way to prevent yourself from ever contracting the fungus. Frequent and proper hand washing helps cut down on this and all other infections that are present on the skin. Wearing loose-fitting and breathable undergarments also lessens outbreaks of the form of ringworm that manifests itself as jock itch.
As mentioned above, one common form of ringworm is the rash in the folds of the groin area commonly described as jock itch. Ringworm can also be found on the scalp in a flaky, scaly form that can lead to bald spots. Men can get ringworm that crusts and swells on their faces and necks where they have facial hair. Ringworm in the hallmark flat, ring-shaped form can be found anywhere on the body.
For those who have mild cases of ringworm, it may be best to try an over-the-counter antifungal cream before moving on to something of prescription strength. If the symptoms do not start to clear up within two weeks, consult a doctor for a prescription. Prescription creams and oral medications are used for more serious or resistant ringworm infections. Their application or dosage should be followed exactly to make sure that the infection subsides. Failing to treat ringworm will lead to the spread of the infection or recurring outbreaks.
Recurrence of ringworm rashes happens when the condition is not appropriately treated the first time around. There is a tendency to cease using ringworm creams or medications even if the prescribed length of treatment has not yet been met because the skin starts to visibly clear up. Just because the skin clears does not mean the fungus that caused the rash has been completely eradicated. To avoid recurrence, administer the treatment as prescribed, regardless of improvements to the visible symptoms.
One reason for reoccurrence of ringworm or the rash never clearing up in the first place is that it may not be ringworm at all. There are many skin conditions that can closely resemble ringworm in their visible symptoms. Make sure to get a clear diagnosis from your doctor to make sure that you are indeed treating the right condition. A skin scraping can be done for closer examination to determine if the ringworm fungus is actually present.