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Ringworm is a common fungal infection. It's not caused by worms. You can usually buy medicine from a pharmacy to treat it.

Check if it's ringworm

The main symptom of ringworm is a rash. It may look red or darker than the surrounding skin, depending on your skin tone.

The rash may be scaly, dry, swollen or itchy.

Ringworm can appear anywhere on the body, including the scalp (tinea capitis) and groin (jock itch).

A large, circular rash on a person with white skin. There is a red outer ring and a paler inner circle that is slightly darker than their normal skin tone.
The rash is usually ring-shaped, but it may look different on your face, neck or scalp.
An oval-shaped patch of scaly, reddish-brown skin on a child’s cheek, caused by ringworm. Shown on medium brown skin.
The colour of the ringworm rash may be less noticeable on brown and black skin.
The upper back of a person with white skin. There is a large, pale pink patch of skin in the middle and several smaller patches around the outside.
Sometimes the rash grows, spreads, or there's more than 1 rash.
Close-up of the top of a person’s head. They have brown hair and there is a patch of dark pink, scaly skin (a ringworm rash) on their scalp.
Ringworm on the face or scalp may also cause patchy hair loss.
Other common fungal infections
Common fungal infections
Affected area Possible condition


Fungal nail infection


Athlete's foot

A pharmacist can help with ringworm

Speak to a pharmacist first if you think you have ringworm.

They can look at the rash and recommend the best antifungal medicine. This might be tablets, cream, gel or spray depending on where the rash is.

You may need to use an antifungal medicine every day for up to 4 weeks. It's important to use it for the right amount of time, even if the rash has gone away.

A pharmacist will tell you if they think you should see a GP.

Non-urgent advice: See a GP if:

  • ringworm has not improved after using antifungal medicine recommended by a pharmacist
  • you have ringworm on your scalp – you'll usually need prescription antifungal tablets and shampoo
  • you have a weakened immune system – for example, from chemotherapy, steroids or diabetes

How ringworm is passed on

Ringworm is caused by a type of fungi.

It can be passed on through close contact with:

  • an infected person or animal
  • infected objects, such as bedsheets, combs or towels
  • infected soil, although this is less common

It's fine for your child to go to school or nursery once they've started treatment. Let your child's teachers know they have ringworm.

How to stop ringworm spreading


  • start treatment as soon as possible

  • wash towels and bedsheets regularly

  • keep your skin clean and wash your hands after touching animals or soil

  • regularly check your skin if you have been in contact with an infected person or animal

  • take your pet to the vet if they might have ringworm – for example, if they have patches of missing fur


  • do not share towels, combs or bedsheets with someone who has ringworm

  • do not scratch a ringworm rash because this could spread it to other parts of your body

Page last reviewed: 03 August 2023
Next review due: 03 August 2026