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, silver or darker than 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).


The rash is usually ring-shaped, but it may look different on your face, neck or scalp.

The colour of the ringworm rash may be less noticeable on brown and black skin.

Sometimes the rash grows, spreads or there's more than 1 rash.

Ringworm on the face or scalp may also cause patchy hair loss

A pharmacist can help with ringworm

Speak to a pharmacist first. 

Ringworm is one of the conditions covered by the Common Ailments Scheme which is an NHS service that patients can access for free advice and free treatment and is available from 99% of pharmacies in Wales. 
Find your nearest pharmacy here
Find more information on the service here

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

You usually need to use 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. 


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 spread 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 have 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, patches of missing fur)


  • do not share towels, combs and bedsheets with someone who has ringworm
  • do not scratch a ringworm rash – this could spread it to other parts of your body

The information on this page has been adapted by NHS Wales from original content supplied by NHS UK NHS website nhs.uk
Last Updated: 20/03/2023 16:06:01