Symptoms of ringworm 

Ringworm often looks like a round, red or silvery patch of skin that may be scaly and itchy.

The ring spreads outwards as it progresses. You can have one patch or several patches of ringworm, and in more serious cases your skin may become raised and blistered.

Scalp ringworm

The symptoms of scalp ringworm include:

  • small patches of scaly skin on the scalp, which may be sore
  • patchy hair loss
  • an itchy scalp

In more severe cases, symptoms can also include:

  • small, pus-filled sores on the scalp
  • crusting on the scalp

In very severe cases of scalp ringworm, a large inflamed sore called a kerion may form on your scalp. This can ooze pus, and you may also have a fever and swollen lymph glands.

Body ringworm

The symptoms of body ringworm include:

  • a ring-like red rash on your skin  your skin will look red and irritated around the ring but healthy inside

In more severe cases:

  • the rings may multiply, grow in size and merge together
  • the rings may feel slightly raised to the touch and the skin under the rash may be itchy
  • blisters and pus-filled sores may form around the rings

Foot ringworm (athlete's foot)

The symptoms of foot ringworm (athlete's foot) include:

  • an itchy, dry, red and flaky rash, usually in the spaces between your toes

And, in more severe cases:

  • cracked skin in the affected area
  • blisters, which may ooze or crust
  • swelling of the skin
  • a burning or stinging sensation in your skin
  • scaling patterns around your sole and on the side of your foot

Read more about athlete's foot.

Groin ringworm (jock itch)

The symptoms of groin ringworm (jock itch) include:

  • red-brown sores (not necessarily ring-shaped), which may have blisters or pus-filled sores around the edge
  • itchiness and redness around your groin area, such as your inner thighs and bottom (the genitals are not usually affected)
  • the skin on your inner thighs can become scaly and flaky

Exercising, walking and wearing tight clothing or underwear can make the symptoms of a groin infection worse.

It's also quite common to develop a groin infection in combination with athlete's foot. This can happen if you have athlete's foot and you scratch your foot and transfer fungal spores to your groin when dressing or going to the toilet.

Ringworm of the nails (fungal nail)

The symptoms of nail ringworm include:

  • a whitish thickening of the nail
  • discolouration (the nail can turn white, black, yellow or green)
  • the nail can become brittle and start to fall off
  • the skin around the nail may be sore and irritated

Read more about fungal nail infection.

Read more about how ringworm is diagnosed.

Ringworm spreads outwards as it progresses, causing a patch or several patches of scaly skin to develop  

When to seek medical advice

Make an appointment to see your GP if you or your child:

  • develop the symptoms of scalp ringworm
  • have body ringworm that has not improved after two weeks of treatment with antifungal cream
  • have another medical condition or you're having medical treatment known to weaken your immune system, such as chemotherapy or steroid tablets

Page last reviewed: 14/03/2013

Next review due: 14/03/2015