Most of the time, washing the area with soap and water and treatment with over-the-counter medication brings the fungal infection ringworm under control. If the condition does not improve with two weeks of regular use of these medications, WebMD recommends calling the doctor for prescription medication to control the condition.
According to KidsHealth, ringworm is part of a family of mold-like fungal infections that live on dead cells in the skin, nails and hair. The medical name for this group of infections is tinea. When the infection grows on the face or hair, it is called ringworm, but when it grows on the feet, it is athlete's foot. Ringworm often grows in a circular pattern on the skin, while athlete's foot tends to grow as red patches between the toes.
The fungus that causes ringworm spreads easily between humans. A child often catches ringworm by touching another person with the infection. However, it also spreads by sharing personal items, such as brushes or hats. MedlinePlus indicates that the fungus is able to pass from pets to humans. Cats often carry ringworm. Ringworm in the hair leads to bald patches. If it affects the nails, they become thick and discolored. Severe cases of ringworm sometimes require antibiotic treatment due to secondary staph or strep infections that begin in the skin weakened by the fungus.