How Much Does it Cost to Treat Ringworm?
Antifungal medications for ringworm can usually be found over-the-counter and range from about $10-$30 per product, depending on dose, formulation, and quantity. Depending on the type of ringworm you are afflicted with, you will most likely be prescribed an antifungal agent.
How Much Do Ringworm Antifungals Cost?
A common misconception is that actual worms cause ringworm. This is not true as ringworm results from a fungal infection that typically presents as a ring-shaped rash. It is important to understand the different types of ringworm that can be acquired, as the type of infection may determine the cost of treatment.
The most common types of ringworm include:
- Athlete’s foot (tinea pedis)
- Jock itch (tinea cruris)
- Scalp ringworm (tinea capitis)
- Nail infection (tinea unguium)
- Body ringworm (tinea corporis)
Depending on the severity of your fungal infection and the location of the rash, your treatment recommendations, and regimen may shift. Additionally, your treatment regimen will depend entirely on your doctor or healthcare provider’s discretion.
The following chart outlines the cost of common topical and oral antifungals that may be used to treat ringworm. These costs listed below are sourced from GoodRx and are based on CVS’ prices. Other pharmacies might have slightly different pricing for these medications; however, the following list is a good estimate of your average antifungal medication costs.
Topical Antifungal Medications
|Clotrimazole||$12.41||1 tube (30g)||Cream||Yes|
|Miconazole||$7.51||1 tube (2%)||Cream||Yes|
|Naftifine||$113.58||1 tube (45g, 2%)||Cream||Yes|
|Ketoconazole||$33.09||1 tube (60g, 2%)||Cream||Yes|
|Terbinafine||$10.81||1 tube (30g, 1%)||Cream||Yes|
Oral Antifungal Medications
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Ringworm Treatment Regimens
As previously mentioned, treatment regimens for ringworm can vary drastically based on the severity of your infection, the type of infection, and also your healthcare provider’s discretion. Listed below is a general outline of what treatments to expect for different types of tinea infections.
- Tinea pedis: also known as athlete's foot, most often can be treated with over-the-counter (OTC) topical antifungal agents. Generally, this infection can be resolved within 2-4 weeks. However, if the infections become chronic or extensive, oral antifungal agents may be warranted.
- Tinea capitis: also known as ringworm of the scalp, tinea capitis should be treated only with oral/systemic antifungal medications. Topical antifungals will not be effective for scalp infections.
- Tinea cruris: also known as jock itch, tinea cruris can usually be treated with oral antifungal products. Generally, this infection should resolve within two weeks of treatment. However, like tinea pedis, you might need to take systemic antifungal medications if the infection becomes more severe.
- Tine unguium: also known as nail infection or even onychomycosis, has varying treatment regimens based on severity. Generally, if your infection is mild, topical agents can be used. However, a combination of systemic and topical treatment is usually used in patients with more systemic infections.
- Tinea corporis: also known as body ringworm, is usually treated with topical therapy if the infection is localized. It is generally recommended to apply topical antifungals to the lesion once to twice a day. Generally, this infection should resolve within two weeks, depending on the medication and severity of the infection.
Generally, ringworm is characterized by three main symptoms. This includes itchy skin, a ring-shaped rash, and red and scaly feeling skin. However, various types of ringworm can have unique symptoms that are important to keep in mind.
- Tinea pedis: The most common symptoms are scaly, itchy, or cracked skin on the feet or between toes. A burning or stinging sensation can also accompany the rash.
- Tinea capitis: This infection is seen primarily in toddlers and children. This infection will often lead to itchy, scaly, bald spots on the scalp. It is a very contagious infection and can easily spread in daycares and schools.
- Tinea cruris: This infection usually presents as a red rash in warm or moist areas of the body. This rash will often occur near the groin or the inner thigh in a half-moon shape.
- Tinea unguium: Most commonly, this infection can present in your fingernails or toenails. It usually begins as a small yellow spot under your nail and eventually can spread to the rest of your nail. In extensive infections, the nail can become yellow and thick and can spread to your other nails as well. This infection can also produce a foul smell.
- Tinea corporsis: This infection can occur anywhere on your body. In most cases, it presents on the face or under folds of skin. This infection tends to consist of the most “classic” presentation of ringworm in which the rash manifests as rings of blistering/lesions.
Ringworm Treatment Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Although ringworm is generally easy to treat, it is important to have realistic expectations about your treatment outcomes. Additionally, before you start treatment, it is important that you have spoken to a healthcare provider and understand all of your appropriate options.
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What are some non-pharmacologic alternatives to ringworm treatment?
If your infection is mild, there are some non-pharmacologic treatments to try before visiting your physician. Please note that these treatments will not act as substitutes for antifungals, especially if your condition is more serious. These alternatives can be found at your local grocery store, health foods store, or even online at a low cost.
- Apple cider vinegar: some individuals recommend using apple cider vinegar about three times a day on your ringworm rash as an effective at-home treatment. Apple cider vinegar has natural anti-fungal properties, especially against the fungus that causes ringworm. Apple cider vinegar will cost about $5-10 depending on the brand for 16 fluid ounces.
- Coconut oil: coconut oil consists of fats with anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties. Additionally, coconut oil can help to reduce inflammation and can have moisturizing effects. Using coconut oil on your ringworm rash can help alleviate dryness and itchiness and may also help reduce the extent of your infection. Coconut oil can cost anywhere from $10-25 online.
- Tea tree oil: tea tree oil has demonstrated efficacy as a treatment for athlete's foot in a clinical trial. When using tea tree oil, make sure to check that it is diluted in a carrier oil. If not, make sure to manually dilute your tea tree oil before applying it to the skin. Tea tree oil can cost around $5-15 online for 1 fluid ounce.
A general rule of thumb to follow is to always check with your primary care provider before attempting any new treatments, even if it is a non-pharmacologic treatment. It is fundamental that your provider knows your comprehensive medication history, including any non-pharmacologic medications that you are using to prevent serious drug interactions or complications.
What are the side effects of antifungal treatment?
Antifungal treatments (topical and oral) can cause various side effects. Most of these side effects tend to be mild, but you must monitor these effects closely as they could contribute to more severe complications if unnoticed.
Topical antifungals can lead to:
Oral/systemic antifungals can lead to:
- Abdominal pain/discomfort
More severe side effects are jaundice, which is indicative of liver failure and presents as yellowing of the skin and the whites of your eyes. Another potential serious side effect to be aware of is anaphylaxis or a severe fatal allergic reaction. However, these side effects are infrequent as long as you follow your provider’s instructions and monitor your side effects closely.
Is ringworm contagious? How can ringworm be prevented?
Ringworm is a contagious fungal infection. If you realize that you are infected with ringworm, there are several steps to take to ensure that you do not spread your infection to others or to other parts of your body.
- Wash your hands with soap and water after touching your rash
- Keep the infected area clean and dry
- Change and wash your clothes every day
- Do not share clothes, hats, towels, etc.
- Disinfect all items that have been in contact with your rash (bedding, towels, shoes, socks, etc.)
- Follow your treatment regimen carefully
Although ringworm treatment is not typically very costly, you must understand the different types of treatment and the general type and length of your treatment based on the type of ringworm you have been infected with. Ultimately, your treatment regimen falls under your doctor’s discretion, but most treatments will only cost around $10-30.
Mira is an excellent resource if you need to speak to a physician about your treatment options for ringworm infection. For just $45 per month, Mira can offer affordable counseling sessions, virtual and in-person consultations, affordable urgent care visits, and discounted prescription medications. Sign up for Mira today!
Sophie is a 2024 Pharm D. candidate studying pharmacy at Rutgers University, New Brunswick. She has a passion for healthcare and writing and hopes to make meaningful contributions to healthcare transparency and accessibility. In her free time, she likes to take care of her houseplants, cook, and hang out with her cat.