CareNow® - September 15, 2022

Can urgent care treat ringworm?

Despite popular belief, ringworm is not actually caused by a worm. In fact, it's a skin infection that shows up as a rash that's caused by a fungal infection. The rash gets its name because of its circular shape that's red and itchy.

Since ringworm is a fungal infection, it can be contagious. If you are showing signs of ringworm, seek medical attention as soon as possible to avoid spreading the infection to other people. Find out more about what causes ringworm, where to go if you suspect you're infected, and how it's treated.

What causes ringworm?

Ringworm is a contagious fungal infection caused by fungi that live on the dead tissues of your hair, nails, and skin. Because it's so contagious, it can be spread in several different ways, including skin-to-skin contact with someone who's infected, animal-to-human contact (it's especially common in cows), and object-to-human contact. Although rare, it is also possible to get ringworm by coming into contact with infected soil.

What are the symptoms of ringworm?

The most obvious symptom of ringworm is a scaly, ring-shaped rash that shows up anywhere from four to 14 days after you've come in contact with the fungi. Typically, this rash is itchy and includes a clear or scaly area inside the ring. You may even notice expanding rings that are slightly raised.

There are several other common medical conditions that are actually caused by ringworm. For example, athlete's foot and jock itch are two well-known conditions of the feet and groin area.

Athlete's foot will appear as red, swollen, or peeling skin that itches between the toes, while jock itch is what happens when ringworm shows up on the groin as itchy, scaly, red spots. Both conditions can be treated as any other form of ringworm.

When to get medical help for ringworm

It's a good idea to seek medical attention any time you're dealing with a rash so you can get a proper diagnosis. A provider can give you an antifungal product that will help get rid of the rash and alleviate symptoms. If you notice the rash isn't improving after two weeks of taking medication, you should seek medical help again.

If you're looking for convenient, quality care, an urgent care clinic is an excellent choice. At CareNow®, our qualified providers can give you a proper diagnosis and get you on a treatment plan quickly.

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What to expect from your appointment

Before your appointment, it's smart to consider any questions you may have. A few questions you may want to ask include:

  • Is there any indication what the cause may be?
  • Do I need any tests to confirm my diagnosis?
  • Is there a treatment option that's best for me?
  • How do I prevent this from spreading to others?
  • Should I avoid any of my normal skincare products?

During the appointment, you will be asked some basic questions as well. Prepare to share information like when your symptoms started, what your rash looked like when you first noticed it, and if you've had any type of similar rash in the past.

Let your provider know if your rash is painful or itchy and if you've used any types of medication or creams already.

How is ringworm diagnosed?

In most cases, ringworm can be diagnosed simply by looking at the affected area. However, in some cases, a small skin scraping may be needed. The provider will examine the skin under a microscope or possibly send it to a laboratory to get a fungal culture.

Does ringworm go away on their own?

Although ringworm may go away on its own within a few months for healthy individuals, it's best to seek medical attention if you're showing symptoms or believe you've been exposed. In most cases, a topical ointment is needed to treat the infection.

If you notice symptoms of ringworm, be sure to keep the area as clean and dry as possible to avoid the rash getting worse. You can use an over-the-counter antifungal lotion, cream, or ointment before your appointment if needed.

How can you cure ringworm?

In most cases, a provider will recommend an over-the-counter treatment to begin. If that doesn't work, a prescription-strength antifungal medication may be needed. This may be a cream, ointment, or lotion that you can apply to the affected area. Antifungal pills may be prescribed in severe cases.

What's the best way to prevent ringworm?

It can be difficult to prevent ringworm since it's contagious, even before you notice symptoms, but there are steps you can take to minimize your risk of getting the infection.

To help prevent ringworm, it's smart to educate yourself and others on how it's spread. Make sure your children know what to watch for and the best ways to avoid infection.

Keeping your hands clean is another way to keep infection at bay. This is especially important in schools, child care centers, locker rooms, gyms, and other shared spaces.

If you have pets, you should have your veterinarian check them for ringworm during visits. Typically, on animals, the infection appears as a patch of skin that's missing fur.

Finally, avoid wearing thick clothing for an extended period of time when it's warm and humid outside. This can result in excessive sweating, which increases the risk of getting ringworm.

Can I go to urgent care for ringworm?

An urgent care clinic is a great place to seek care if you believe you have ringworm. Clinics like CareNow® offer a convenient solution, with locations open after hours and on the weekends when a general physician's office is closed.

Each of our 175 locations throughout the country welcomes walk-in patients as well — or you can use the Web Check-In® feature and wait from anywhere. To find the CareNow® clinic near you, visit our website.

We've also earned the distinction of Accredited Urgent Care Center from our industry's association, Urgent Care Association (UCA), so you can rest easy that you're receiving the utmost care and medical attention.

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