Dr. Hina Altaf Dermatologist



Ringworm is a common skin infection that is caused by a fungus. Even though its name might suggest otherwise, the condition is not a result of a worm. The term “ringworm” is used because it usually manifests as a red circular rash with an elevated edge and a clear center. It can be very itchy and may spread to other areas of the body. The medical terms for this condition are “tinea” or “dermatophytosis.”

Alternative terms for the condition are determined by its location on the body (for instance, when it occurs on the feet, it’s referred to as “athlete’s foot”).  The infection can be transmitted through direct contact with an infected person or animal; the fungi that cause this infection can live on skin, surfaces, and on household items such as clothing, towels, and bedding. Pets are  a common source of infection and remarkably they might not show any symptoms and signs. 


The treatment for the condition might involve using either topical or oral antifungal medications. It is important to continue treatment for the full course prescribed, even if the rash appears to have cleared up. With treatment a fungal infection on a hairless part of the body (glabrous skin) is likely to clear up within two to four weeks of the start of treatment, while cases of fungal infections of the scalp or nails may require treatment for a few months.

Preventive measures include keeping skin clean and dry, avoiding sharing personal items, and treating infected pets. It is also important to avoid scratching the rash to prevent further spread of the infection.

Ringworm, also known as dermatophytosis, is a common fungal infection of the skin. Despite its name, it is not caused by a worm but by various types of fungi called dermatophytes. Ringworm can affect different areas of the body, including the scalp, body, groin, feet (athlete's foot), and nails. It appears as a red, itchy, circular rash with raised edges, resembling a ring.
Ringworm can be transmitted through direct contact with an infected person or animal, or by coming into contact with contaminated objects or surfaces. It is highly contagious and can spread from person to person, as well as from animals to humans. Poor hygiene, close contact in crowded environments, and sharing personal items like clothing, towels, or combs with an infected person can increase the risk of transmission.
Ringworm can usually be treated with antifungal medications. Topical antifungal creams, ointments, or sprays are commonly used for mild to moderate cases of ringworm on the skin. For severe or widespread infections, oral antifungal medications may be prescribed. In some cases, both topical and oral treatments may be recommended. It's important to follow the prescribed treatment regimen and continue treatment for the recommended duration to ensure complete eradication of the infection.
The duration of ringworm treatment can vary depending on the location and severity of the infection, as well as the effectiveness of the chosen treatment. In many cases, ringworm can be effectively treated within 2 to 4 weeks with consistent use of antifungal medications. However, it is important to continue treatment for the recommended duration, even if the symptoms improve, to prevent recurrence.
To prevent ringworm, it's important to maintain good hygiene practices. This includes regularly washing your hands with soap and water, especially after touching animals or coming into contact with potentially contaminated surfaces. Avoid sharing personal items like clothing, towels, hairbrushes, or combs with others. Keep your skin clean and dry, and avoid prolonged contact with wet surfaces. If you have pets, make sure they receive regular veterinary care to prevent the spread of ringworm from animals to humans.

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Dr. Hinah Altaf’s clinic is currently at Gargash Hospital, 145 Umm Suqeim Street – Umm Al Sheif -Dubai.