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Ringworm (Tinea Corporis)

Dr Karen Martin
Reviewed by Dr Karen MartinReviewed on 19.10.2023 | 2 minutes read

Ringworm (also known as jock itch) is a common fungal skin infection of the groin. Sometimes doctors call it the medical term tinea cruris - we should be clear it has nothing to do with worms! This fungal infection usually occurs in warm, moist areas such as the groin or in the armpit area or feet (where it is called tinea pedis or athlete's foot). It produces symptoms of a rash that is usually red, sore and itchy and has clear edges that can form a ring-like pattern. It is commonly found in athletes and the elderly but can affect anyone. When it is found in the crease of the groin it can spread a short way down the upper thigh.

The majority of cases are mild and can be treated easily with over-the-counter antifungal creams available from your pharmacy. If the medication is for a child, you should check with your pharmacist about the most appropriate over-the-counter medication.

There are a number of different antifungal creams available (you will see names such as terbinafine, clotrimazole, tolnaftate, and miconazole), so check the directions that come with each cream as it will tell you how often and for how long to use it. Apply the cream to the affected area and to the non-affected skin that is up to 2 inches around the affected area.

Doctor’s advice

Is it contagious?

The condition is contagious and can be easily spread through direct skin-to-skin contact or indirectly through towels, clothing, and bedding. You should avoid sharing towels and clothing, wash your hands well after touching infected areas, and wash bedding regularly to help prevent the spread.

Healthwords pharmacists' top tips

There are many creams, gels, and sprays which are very effective to help clear up this condition. Some people find a gel-based treatment to be cooling for intense itching and irritation. Alternatively, using a product such as Lamisil AT 1% spray can help dry up any excess moisture from sweat, reduce friction and irritation, and treat the infection with a convenient once-daily application.

Am I fit for work?

If you have jock itch (tinea cruris) you are still fit for work.

When should I see my doctor?

You should arrange a routine appointment with your doctor if your symptoms are not improving after 1 - 2 weeks, if you have a temperature, or if the skin is broken or severely inflamed, as you are at risk of additional bacterial infections.

The doctor may give you a steroid cream to use in addition to the antifungal cream or oral medication to treat the infection. They may also take a swab to double-check that the infection is definitely ringworm.

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This article has been written by UK-based doctors and pharmacists, so some advice may not apply to US users and some suggested treatments may not be available. For more information, please see our T&Cs.
Dr Karen Martin
Reviewed by Dr Karen Martin
Reviewed on 19.10.2023
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