Have you noticed a rash on your skin and are struggling to determine whether it’s eczema or ringworm? You wouldn’t be the first. These two quite bothersome skin conditions are very similar in lots of ways, with many people confusing the two afflictions as a result.
The most glaring similarity is that each skin condition shares the same symptom of itchiness. This common and quite burdening itchy rash might be just an occasional mild but irritating itch, or it could be a constant, more painful itch that is impossible to satisfy, causing a high level of distress. Most sufferers fall somewhere in the middle.
Ringworm vs Eczema at a Glance
Nummular eczema (a subtype of atopic eczema) and ringworm appear as similar looking circular rashes to the untrained eye. A medical expert will usually spot the difference at first glance, but to most people, they often appear the same, which, in turn, means that it can be challenging to distinguish between ringworm vs eczema symptoms. Both conditions are quite often misunderstood and easily confused.
Through this article, we hope to put that right, and by the end, you will be able to discern the difference between them. We want you to understand how to treat, cope, and live with this unpleasant skin irritation affecting millions of Americans yearly.
Let’s look at the primary risk factors and treatment options available.
What is Nummular Eczema?
Sometimes referred to as discoid eczema (or nummular dermatitis), nummular eczema is a persistent, frequently itchy rash and localized inflammation of the skin, usually distinguished by small oval or coin-shaped spots, together with a scaly rash.
Nummular eczema frequently appears in clusters, most typically around the arms, legs, torso, and hands (although no body part is safe from it). These clusters are usually around one to four inches in size and appear red or pink.
There are various symptoms, but the most common and apparent signs of nummular eczema include dry skin, itchiness, and a sensation of mild burning or localized heat.
Is Eczema Contagious?
Nummular eczema is not contagious or dangerous. The condition is not permanent and can be cured, but unfortunately, it can linger for months or even years in some people. If left untreated, a more severe skin condition might occur, so it is essential to treat it effectively. More on that later, though.
What is Ringworm?
Despite the gruesome name, ringworm is (thankfully) not caused by worms in any way, shape, or form. However, the shape of this skin condition resembles a worm in a circular shape and that’s how it got it’s misleading name. This widespread fungal infection, also known as tinea corporis, can occur anywhere on the body but is more common in feet – in which case it is also known as athlete’s foot.
The chances are that you, or someone in your family, have suffered from a bout of ringworm at some point.
Contagious fungal infection
Unlike eczema, ringworm is contagious and can be easily spread through hygiene products, for example. Shared bed sheets and washrooms are also known culprits for spreading infection. Any secondhand contact exposes you to contamination, hence the high infection rates.
You might have noticed some public swimming baths have a disinfecting station for bathers’ feet before entering the public area barefoot. This is because ringworm (in the form of athlete’s foot) is highly contagious in specific environments, with public swimming pool areas being a well-known habitat for contamination.
Saunas or gyms, for example, are also prime sources of infection. It is worth noting that animals are susceptible to ringworm, which can then be transmitted to humans through petting your dog or cat.
People of all ages are affected, although it is more common in children.
Causes of Eczema vs Ringworm
So, we know that ringworm is a fungal infection that lives on the skin and can be passed from person to person or even from an infected pet to a person. The actual root causes of eczema are not known, however.
Scientists have labored over the cause of eczema for years without identifying a prime source. Studies have shown that genetic and environmental factors are linked somehow, but there is no concrete proof of anything further than that. The most recent research is connecting eczema with a weakened or leaky skin barrier.
It can be triggered by substances like animal hair (usually pets), certain fabrics, smoke, sweat, chemicals found in beauty products, and certain metals. A flare-up can even result in some people eating specific foods. Peanuts, milk, soy, wheat, fish, and eggs are leading triggers for susceptible people.
Symptoms of Eczema and Ringworm
Both conditions can cause the skin to appear red and inflamed. Symptoms can appear anywhere on the body. However, ringworm often appears as a ring-shaped rash on the trunk, arms, and legs (hence the name). While nummular eczema often involves multiple round patches, ringworm typically appears as just one spot.
Natural Remedies for Treating Eczema and Ringworm
Over-the-counter remedies are the usual go-to for Ringworm, mainly in the form of topical antifungal medication. These remedies are reasonably effective, although it can be a case of trial and error before finding a cream that works for you.
Nummular & Discoid Eczema
Unlike ringworm, discoid and nummular eczema cannot be cured. At least not medically. Your local pharmacist will recommend various lotions, creams, and topical corticosteroids to help soothe the symptoms. However, trial and error might again be a factor in finding the best solution for your condition.
Most people find that natural remedies, solutions, and methods improve their symptoms and often prevent flare-ups. Some of the more effective ones worth considering are as follows:
Wear Protective Clothing
To protect and soothe your skin from harmful scratching, we recommend wearing eczema-friendly clothing like these Remedywear garments. They’re made with cooling, soft TENCEL and embedded with antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory zinc to help bring you the relief you deserve.
Remedywear garments are generally considered very effective by a wide range of sufferers and will do a great job of providing relief.
For total body protection, we suggest the following:
Take Cooler, Shorter Showers
As much as we love a long, hot shower, this can negatively impact your skin. Hot water tends to cause dry skin, so you should use lukewarm water for shorter showers. When you are done washing, please be sure to pat dry your skin with a towel, as rubbing the skin can cause further irritation.
Use a Natural Soap
To reduce the risk of aggravating your skin with soaps that contain harsh chemicals, we recommend sticking to a natural soap like this moisturizing and nourishing Grass Fed Tallow Soap. Made the old-fashioned way with lye, water, and grass-fed tallow, this is the perfect addition to your skincare routine and is paleo friendly.
Keep your Skin Hydrated
A great way to manage itchiness and reduce redness is to moisten your skin with a natural cream. We love this Organic Manuka Skin Soothing Cream because it’s made with just six ingredients. It’s perfect for sensitive skin because of its non-burning and non-stinging formula. Embrace its calming nature and allow its emollients to moisturize even the driest of skin.
Take Care of Yourself!
This one is obvious, but as a gentle reminder, taking great care of yourself can go a long way to putting a dent in either of these conditions. Maintaining a healthy diet with regular exercise is crucial in combating most ailments and conditions. If you can, try to burn off a few extra calories whenever possible and throw down a little more leafy greens! Cutting out sugar and carbs won’t hurt, either.
Finally, get some sleep! It’s not always easy managing a solid eight hours with these itchy conditions, but if you can, it helps.
We feel your pain and know precisely how tiresome either affliction can be. But with suitable clothing, natural skincare, a sensible diet and a good sleep routine, you might not rid yourself of this irritating condition immediately, but you will at least keep it at bay.
Any ideas, tips, or suggestions for combating eczema and ringworm? Go ahead and leave a comment below, and let’s beat this thing together!