Ringworm is a contagious fungal infection. If not treated, it could spread from one part of the skin to other areas. Mostly seen in children, it affects the scalp, feet, groin area, arms, legs, and nails. While the name might suggest a link with a worm, it’s not. It’s named “ringworm” because the infection makes a strong ring-like shape on the skin. Ringworm of the scalp is otherwise known as tinea capitis.
Causes Of Ringworm Of The Scalp
A ringworm infection is caused by several types of fungus, but experts have found out that the main ones to blame are trichophyton, microsporum, and epidermophyton. The fungus thrives in heat and moisture, where they could live for months. They could be present in your nails, hair tissues, and the folds of your skin. Here are four general ways you can get the infection.
Animals: You can get a ringworm infection if your pet dog or cat has come into contact with the fungus. One study found out kittens and cats were more prone to carry the fungus.1 It could spread to you after playing with them. It could also come from contact with farm animals like cows and pigs.
An Infected Person: The chances shoot up if you have skin-to-skin contact with a person who already has a ringworm infection. Overcrowded and public places also count.
Infected Objects: You can contract ringworm if you have used an infected person’s hairbrush, towels, bed linens, or clothes.
Soil: If you have been exposed to soil contaminated with the fungus, you might get infected. Though the possibility is quite low.
Public Places: The area around swimming pools and public showers are ideal places for the fungus to thrive.
You Put Yourself At Risk If:
- You don’t clean your hair often (fungus loves dead hair tissue)
- You sweat a lot and your body is wet for long
- The environment you live in is mostly damp and humid
- Use a lot of public places or if you are in contact sports like wrestling
- You wear thick, tight or restrictive clothes2
Symptoms Of Ringworm Of The Scalp
The signs of a ringworm infection pop up after a week of exposure or maybe lesser. Here’s what you need to look for.
- Red, sore lumps at first
- Patches of hair loss on the scalp. They appear dry and flaky
- An itchy and irritated scalp with dandruff
- Patches of dark or black spots appear because of hair fall
- Pus-filled spots called kerions develop
- In severe cases, areas of crusting (a layer formed when pus or blood gets dried) is scattered on the scalp
- In extremely severe instances, the scalp develops favus. These are yellow crusts that bunch together to form a honeycomb appearance. It is accompanied by swollen lymph glands at the back of your neck and maybe even a fever
Note: Please look out for similar signs in your pets. If you do spot them, take them to a vet immediately.
Treatment Of Ringworm Of The Scalp
There are plenty of things that you can do at home to treat a ringworm infection in its early stages. Here’s what you can do.
1. Coconut Oil
This particular oil is proven to act as an elixir for hair. It hydrates the hair and scalp, strengthens hair, and reduces dandruff. Coconut oil is also a great anti-fungal agent and reduces scalp irritation, including itchiness.3
How To Use:
- Apply coconut oil to the affected areas on the scalp and let it rest overnight. Wash it off with an anti-fungal shampoo. Do it for three weeks.
How To Use:
- Take 1 – 2 garlic cloves and crush it using a mortar and pestle. You can add a few drops of water to make it easier for applying it on your scalp.
- Another option is to add 2 garlic cloves to 2 tablespoons each of honey and olive oil. Rub the mixture gently to the affected areas on the scalp and leave it for 40 minutes. Wash it off with lukewarm water. Do this at least twice a day till you see a difference. Mixing garlic with honey and olive oil (both score high anti-fungal points) can reduce the infection at a faster rate.
3. Aloe Vera
Aloe Vera has got all the properties to take on ringworm of the scalp. It’s anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory and is known to heal wounds rapidly.6
How To Use:
- Take a leaf from an aloe vera plant. Cut out the gel from within the leaf and apply it directly onto the irritated areas of the scalp. Wash it off after 20 – 30 minutes with warm water. Repeat this twice a day.7
4. Myrrh And Goldenseal
How To Use:
- Start your day with mixing a teaspoon of goldenseal powder and half a teaspoon of myrrh in boiling water. Wait for the water to cool down before dabbing it onto the spots of your scalp.10
Turmeric is well known for its healing powers – a reason why it’s popular among several ayurvedic remedies. It’s been proven to have anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal properties.11
How To Use:
- Add turmeric powder to milk and mix it. Apply the mixture onto the affected areas of the scalp and let it rest for 20 minutes. Wash it off gently. Do this twice a day. Another option is to use plain water if you don’t want to use milk.
6. Tea Tree Oil
Anti-fungal, anti-septic, and known to heal wounds, tea tree oil is a good option to treat ringworm of the scalp.12
How To Use:
- Dilute tea tree oil with water and dab it onto affected areas. You can do this twice a day.
Treating Ringworm Of The Scalp In Children
Ringworm affects more school children than adults. In fact, experts claim children between 3 – 10 years of age were more prone to getting ringworm of the scalp than adults. If your children are dealing with ringworm, you need to choose delicate ingredients to treat their scalps. Also, do check with your pediatrician before applying these remedies.
1. Apple Cider Vinegar
One of the several benefits of ACV, is its ability to fight fungus and bacteria.13 Apple cider vinegar makes it impossible for the ringworm fungus to live and grow. Also, it’s non-toxic in nature. This makes it perfect as a ringworm remedy for children.
How To Use:
- Dilute apple cider vinegar with little water and dab the solution to the area. Do this 3 times a day to see results.
Papaya has two powerful components: papain and chymopapain. These have been proven to reduce any inflammation and can take nasty fungus.14
How To Use:
- Pick an unripe papaya and cut it into slices. Rub the slices gently directly onto the affected area of your kid’s scalp. Wash it off with warm water. You can do this twice a day.
Do These Things As Well
- Keep your scalp clean
- Along with the treatment, make sure to wear clean and dry clothes
- If you have been infected with ringworm, please make sure to have other members of the house also checked. This includes your pets too!
- Remember, disinfect your surroundings. This is vital to prevent other people (and yourself) from getting ringworm
How To Disinfect Your Surroundings
This is an essential step in your treatment. The fungus could be present in your commonly used things and clothes. You need to do the following every day.
- Soak combs and hairbrushes in 1 part bleach to 10 parts of water. Let it soak for an hour
- Wash all the towels and bed linens in extremely hot water
Precautions You Need To Follow
- Try not to walk barefoot, especially in public places
- If you suspect your pets to have a ringworm infection, take them to a vet immediately. Also, make sure to tidy up the kennel area often. Remember to wash your hands after playing with an animal
- Be strong in your personal hygiene game. Keep your hair clean, shower regularly, and wash your hands regularly
- Do not share towels, combs or hairbrushes, clothes, helmets or hats
- Wash your hair after a haircut, especially for children
Ringworm takes about a month to clear up. Follow the treatment patiently and do visit a doctor if the signs don’t disappear.
|↑1||Moriello, Karen. “Feline dermatophytosis Aspects pertinent to disease management in single and multiple cat situations.” Journal of feline medicine and surgery 16, no. 5 (2014): 419-431|
|↑2||Ringworm. Branch-Hillsale-St.Joseph Community Health Agency|
|↑3||Ogbolu, David Olusoga, Anthony Alaba Oni, Oluwole Adebayo Daini, and A. P. Oloko. “In vitro antimicrobial properties of coconut oil on Candida species in Ibadan, Nigeria.” Journal of medicinal food 10, no. 2 (2007): 384-387.|
|↑4||Ankri, Serge, and David Mirelman. “Antimicrobial properties of allicin from garlic.” Microbes and infection 1, no. 2 (1999): 125-129|
|↑5||Yoshida, Susumu, Shigeo Kasuga, N. O. R. I. H. I. R. O. Hayashi, Tsuyoshi Ushiroguchi, Hiromichi Matsuura, and Shizutoshi Nakagawa. “Antifungal activity of ajoene derived from garlic.” Applied and environmental microbiology 53, no. 3 (1987): 615-617.|
|↑6||Grundmann, Oliver. “Aloe vera gel research review.” Natural medicine journal 1 (2012): 1-12|
|↑7||Barcroft, Alasdair, and Audun Myskja. Aloe vera: nature’s silent healer. AlasdairAloeVera, 2003.|
|↑8||Dolara, Piero, Barbara Corte, Carla Ghelardini, Anna Maria Pugliese, Elisabetta Cerbai, Stefano Menichetti, and Antonella Lo Nostro. “Local anaesthetic, antibacterial and antifungal properties of sesquiterpenes from myrrh.” Planta medica 66, no. 04 (2000): 356-358.|
|↑9||Ettefagh, Keivan A., Johnna T. Burns, Hiyas A. Junio, Glenn W. Kaatz, and Nadja B. Cech. “Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis L.) extracts synergistically enhance the antibacterial activity of berberine via efflux pump inhibition.” Planta medica 77, no. 08 (2011): 835-840.|
|↑10||Kloss, Jethro. Back to Eden: a human interest story of health and restoration to be found in herb, root, and bark. Lotus Press, 1989.|
|↑11||Zorofchian Moghadamtousi, Soheil, Habsah Abdul Kadir, Pouya Hassandarvish, Hassan Tajik, Sazaly Abubakar, and Keivan Zandi. “A review on antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal activity of curcumin.” BioMed research international 2014 (2014).|
|↑12||Carson, C. F., K. A. Hammer, and T. V. Riley. “Melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree) oil: a review of antimicrobial and other medicinal properties.” Clinical microbiology reviews 19, no. 1 (2006): 50-62.|
|↑13||Mota, Ana Carolina Loureiro Gama, Ricardo Dias Castro, Julyana Araújo Oliveira, and Edeltrudes Oliveira Lima. “Antifungal activity of apple cider vinegar on Candida species involved in denture stomatitis.” Journal of Prosthodontics 24, no. 4 (2015): 296-302.|
|↑14||Aravind. G, Debjit Bhowmik, Duraivel. S, Harish. G.”Traditional and Medicinal Uses of Carica papaya.” Journal of Medicinal Plants Studies (2013).|