Stages of Ringworm: Is it Contagious and For How Long?


Ringworm, also called tinea, is a highly contagious skin disease. It can be difficult to avoid getting it, particularly if you have children or pets in the home. Treating ringworm infection quickly is the best way to prevent it from spreading to other parts of your body, people, and pets. Recognizing the early stages of ringworm can be immeasurably helpful in fighting the disease and keeping everyone healthy and happy.

Beginning Stages

Although they all fall under the same category, there are eight different types of ringworm whose names correspond to where it appears:

  • Tinea pedis (ringworm on the feet; also called athlete’s foot)
  • Tinea faciei (ringworm on the face)
  • Tinea barbae (ringworm in the beard)
  • Tinea capitis (ringworm on the scalp)
  • Tinea corporis (ringworm on the body)
  • Tinea cruris (ringworm on the groin/genital area; also called jock itch)
  • Tinea manus (ringworm of the hands)
  • Tinea unquiet (ringworm of the fingernails)

ringworm-on-bodySymptoms of the first stages of ringworm vary depending on where it develops on the body. Tinea that develops on the face and body may present as faint patches of pink (pale-skinned people) or brown (dark-skinned people) skin. The rash may form a circular or ring pattern but not always and may itch. You may have ringworm of the scalp if flaky skin, scaly brown patches and/or bumps appear in one area. Athlete’s foot may present as itching or burning between the toes and peeling skin. Fingernail and toenail ringworm causes nails to discolor and thicken. The primary early sign of jock itch is an itchy peeling rash in the shape of a ring.

Advanced Stages

The majority of pictures of ringworm are taken in the advanced stage of the skin disease when the infection has fully presented itself.

  • Ringworm on skin is typically a red raised rash. Small bumps or blisters may form on the border and it will itch like crazy.
  • Scalp ringworm usually leads to reddening, scaling, and crusting of the skin. Hair may fall out in the affected area and lymph nodes may swell. Children may develop fevers as a result of the infection.
  • Common signs of athlete’s foot include peeling skin and intense itching or burning. The skin of the feet is typically dry. Conversely, the skin between the toes may become very moist.
  • For those trying to diagnose jock itch, the rash will become very distinct around the edges and develop blister-like bumps. The center of the rash may be reddish-brown, and the rash may itch or cause pain.
  • Nail ringworm will cause the nail plate to turn black, brown, or green. The nail may lift off the nail bed and become misshapen.

ringworm eye

Healing Stages of Ringworm

It is not uncommon for skin to flake and peel as it heals. The itching will gradually lessen until it goes away completely and skin will return to its normal coloring. When nail fungus is killed, healthy pink nail will gradually grow in to replace the diseased nail. With scalp ringworm, the lesion may heal in the center first and develop a hard crust. Eventually, this will go away and hair will regrow.

How Long Is Ringworm Contagious?

The answer isn’t as clear as people would like. You can transmit the infection to others for as long as the rash is visible on your body. However, dermatophytes live on dead skin cells. They will continue to live on non-biological items like combs and bedding. This means that anyone using these items before they have been cleaned with an antifungal cleanser can be infected.

Is It Contagious During or After Treatment?

Until the rash is completely eliminated from all the affected parts of the body, the person can still transfer the infection. Therefore, ringworm is contagious during treatment, but not afterwards. However, it’s still best to wait for a period of a few days after the rash disappears before resuming intimate activities to ensure the cure has effectively eradicated the dermatophytes.

We recently concluded a study to determine what works best at eliminating this contagious fungal infection that affects the skin, hand, scalp, groin, feet (athlete’s foot and jock itch) and nails. We systematically reviewed all available data to determine how well each of the various topical and oral drug regimens eradicated the infection, whether there were any side effects and if the ringworm infection reoccurred.

How to Treat Ringworm in Humans

A doctor will usually prescribe a medication for ringworm or recommend an over-the-counter treatment option like Phytozine. Typically, these drugs and creams will contain antifungal substances such as terbinafine, clotrimazole, or miconazole. Unfortunately, these conventional medical treatments can cause side effects.

If you want to get rid of ringworm naturally, then you need a ringworm cure made from ingredients that have been proven to kill the infection fast without causing other health complications to develop. Go to the homepage to see photos of ringworm infection to help with your self-diagnosis and read about several effective ringworm remedies.