Mild tinea fungal infections, known as ringworm, may be treated with over-the-counter anti-fungal medications, such as clotrimazole or terbinafine, when located on the body, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states. Serious cases or scalp infections may require prescription creams or powders such as griseofulvin or fluconazole.
Treatment with OTC medications usually lasts two to four weeks, while severe cases requiring stronger medications may be treated for one to three months, according to the CDC. Doctors may advise patients to change their anti-fungal medication or switch from an OTC to a prescription drug if the infection worsens or doesn't respond to initial care.
To avoid prolonged infection, doctors often recommend cleaning clothing and bed linens daily until the condition clears up, MedlinePlus notes. Individuals also need to keep their skin dry and clean, and avoid wearing clothes that irritate affected areas of the body. If excessive scratching triggers other skin infections, doctors may prescribe antibiotics.
The infection is caused by fungal growth on the skin and can form in areas such as the groin, known as jock itch, and the foot, known as athlete's foot, according to MedlinePlus. Ringworm is contracted by skin contact with infected individuals or items such as showers or unwashed clothing. The infection leads to raised, scaly patches of skin with redness around the edges or bald patches on the scalp. Fungus on the nails causes discoloration or crumbling.