“A few years ago, my child brought a ringworm infection home. The entire family was treated with pills and creams and for a while it seemed to go away. However, the infection keeps coming back and although we have tried all kinds of remedies, sprays and creams, the fungus just returns and lingers longer and longer each time. What can we do to stop recurring ringworm coming back?”
6 Factors that cause recurring ringworm
Ringworm, as the writer of the above question rightly pointed out, is a fungus and not a worm. It is a highly contagious skin disease characterized by scaly, round patches on the body or bald areas on the scalp. It can easily be transmitted from one person to another and even from pets to humans. Here are some factors that lead to recurring ringworm on the inner thigh, arm, neck, back and scalp:
1. Not practicing good hygiene
Ringworm is caused by dermatophyte fungus which is a microscopic organism that tends to live in our environment. Each time you come in contact with these spores, you are at a risk of getting infected with ringworm or tinea infections. Therefore, hygienic practices are of utmost importance to prevent recurring ringworm. Bathing and washing hands frequently, particularly with a strong antifungal soap is the key to prevent recurring ringworm. You must also teach children to wash hands frequently especially after handling pets.
2. Not discarding contaminated objects
Personal objects like towels, combs , blankets and brushes can be full of dermatophytic spores that cause recurring ringworm. It is best that you throw away these objects and it is especially important to teach children not to share these items with friends and other family members.
3. Not changing out of sweaty clothes and socks
Many people develop ringworm on their feet (Athletes Foot) and groin (Jock Itch) owing to sweaty socks, shoes and gym clothes. It is important that you wash these clothes in hot water and detergent or bleach every day after use. Also change in dry clothes as soon as you can after your workout. You must also bathe with antiseptic soap following such sweaty activities. It is vital that you keep your feet dry at all times and avoid walking barefoot near public baths, shower areas or swimming pools.
4. Not keeping infected children away from school
Kids with ringworm can easily contaminate others at school or daycare. If your child keeps coming up with recurring ringworm, speak to the teacher or school authorities. Discuss measures the school authorities can take to curb the infection.
5. Not medicating enough
If you are not taking the complete dose of your prescribed antifungal medication, then you are going to keep getting recurring ringworm on scalp or the same place you had it earlier. So take the full dose of pills and also apply the antifungal cream several times a day even if your symptoms disappear. Do wash your hair with a strong anti-fungal shampoo 2-3 times a week. Leave the shampoo on for at least 5 minutes before rinsing clean. The same goes for antifungal cream you use on the tinea infections on your skin. Apply the cream 2-3 times a day and keep the lesions covered to prevent spread of the fungus.
6. Not having a strong immune system
A strong immune system can help you fight all kinds of infections from the inside. So eating healthy is very important to prevent recurring ringworm on the neck, inner thigh or scalp. Make sure your diet comprises of fresh fruit and veggies. Stay away from all junk and refined foods as well as preservative laden items. Minimize your sugar intake because it reduces immunity.
And these are the main reasons why you keep getting recurring ringworm over and over in the same place on the neck, thigh or scalp. Now we will study some easy ways to stop ringworm from coming back.
How to stop ringworm from coming back?
- Take all antifungal medicines (systemic and topical) as directed and keep lesions covered at all times.
- Throw away contaminated items like towels, combs and brushes. Avoid sharing these items with other people.
- Observe good hygiene practices like washing hands frequently and bathing with strong anti-fungal soaps and body washes. Keep your scalp clean at all times.
- Avoid staying in sweaty clothes.
- Keep your feet clean and dry always.
- Do not stay in wet swimsuits and dry yourself thoroughly after shower/swimming etc.
- Keep all household surfaces clean by washing them with bleach. This is especially the case in childcare environments.
- Treat pets as soon as you sight the infection. If needed, quarantine or restrict them to one part of your home to contain it.
- Clean and disinfect bathrooms, toys, pet accessories etc on a daily basis.
Recurring ringworm is a sign that something is not right and that you need to make some changes. You can start by thoroughly cleaning the house and throwing away all infested items. Take all medicines and never stop the drugs midway just because you notice a slight improvement in your symptoms. Teach and educate children as well as caregivers about way to prevent the spread of the fungi. Ringworm does not enter the bloodstream but it can be a nuisance if it keeps coming back. We hope this guide helps you prevent the infection from recurring.