How to Stop Ringworm Outbreaks

Although ringworm has nothing to do with actual worms, it is still not a very pleasant condition to have. Ringworm is a skin infection caused by fungus and creates scaly patches of skin that sometimes are circular and resemble the shape of a ring. This condition is highly contagious and spreads easily. Although it is difficult to avoid ringworm entirely, preventing the spread of this infection is possible.

Close up of adult feet with ringworm (Image: AlxeyPnferov/iStock/Getty Images)

Step 1

Stop sharing. Despite Kindergarten teacher claims, sharing is not always a good idea, especially when ringworm is involved. Sharing shoes, clothes, towels, pillows, blankets or personal items like hairbrushes, combs or makeup brushes can spread ringworm and should be avoided, especially when there is a confirmed case of ringworm, explains Aetna Intelihealth.

Step 2

Keep skin and hair clean and dry. Frequent washing the skin and hair will rid the skin of the fungus that causes ringworm, but thoroughly drying off after washing is just as crucial. Since ringworm is most likely to develop in areas of the body that are warm or moist, and especially in between toes, under the breasts and in between rolls of fat, it is important to keep these areas as dry as possible.

Step 3

Keep personal items clean and dry. Spend extra time cleaning personal items like sheets, bedding, pillowcases, clothing, socks, shoes, towels, washcloths, hairbrushes, combs and makeup brushes thoroughly every day if a confirmed case of ringworm is in the area. In addition, thoroughly dry each item after cleaning before using it again.

Step 4

Keep shared living spaces clean and dry. Clean and dry all bathrooms, floors, counter-tops and shared items on a regular basis to prevent ringworm from spreading. When a person who has recently used the area becomes infected, spend extra time disinfecting the area with bleach or other anti-fungal cleaners and then dry the area. In a daycare or school setting, also clean, disinfect and dry all toys, books and other items shared by the children.

Step 5

Avoid touching the areas infected with ringworm on others. This includes pets and animals, since ringworm can pass from animals to humans, explains Medline Plus. If direct contact is necessary, thoroughly wash and dry hands or other areas of the body that came in direct contact with the infected person or animal afterward. In a school or daycare setting, it may be beneficial to have the infected child stay home until starting treatment or to limit contact with other children who may become infected to avoid an outbreak, suggests the parenting website

Step 6

Treat the ringworm. Promptly treating the ringworm will also prevent it from spreading to others. Many over-the-counter medications are available for this purpose. Examples of these over-the-counter medications include clotrimazole and tolnaftate. The medications miconazole and terbinafine are available over-the-counter and also in in prescription-strength formulas. For cases of severe ringworm, a prescription anti-fungal medication may be necessary. Examples of prescription medications for ringworm include butenafine, ciclopirox, econazole, oxiconazole, itraconazole, fluconazole and ketoconazole, according to the Mayo Clinic.


At the gym, use sandals or flip-flops to protect the feet from the fungus that may be present on the floors of the locker room.

Natural fabrics like cotton or wool generally allow the skin to “breathe” better, so items made with natural fabrics are preferable over those made of synthetic fabrics.


If ringworm persists after a couple weeks of self-treatment, contact a doctor.

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