Surprising Ringworm Symptoms

Common ringworm symptoms are pretty easy to identify. Brittle nails and red circular rashes are typical signs of the ringworm. Inflamed, oozing scaly skin and itching all come with the territory when dealing with ringworm.

It's the little-known signs and symptoms of ringworm that really confuse people. Because ringworm can mimic so many other skin infections and conditions making a correct diagnosis is essential. Here are some atypical ringworm symptoms and signs you've probably never considered.

Swollen Lymph Nodes

Sore, swollen lymph nodes are possibly the most vague symptoms of ringworm. I mean there are literally thousands of infections and diseases that can cause enlarged nodes.

You're most likely to see swollen lymph nodes in severe body ringworm infections and in ringworm infections of the scalp or face. Usually, lymph nodes located closest to the infection will swell and feel most tender.

What do lymph nodes do? Well, lymph nodes are part of the body's circulatory/lymphatic system. They help to produce antibodies and filter the body of toxic substances and infectious material.

There are many lymph nodes located near the face, neck, chest, and groin. If you have any serious ringworm infections near these regions, you might feel tender, swollen nodes. Enlarged nodes let you know that your body is working hard to kill off the invading ringworm fungus.


Fever is your body's natural warning sign. Fever raises the body temperature to help kill off microscopic foreign invaders. Unfortunately, ringworm and bacterial infections can go hand in hand.

Scratching itchy rashes leaves breaks in the skin Open weepy lesions are excellent entry points for bacteria. Bacteria depending on type can cause fevers and much worse infections than ringworm.

Do your self a favor and your cover ringworm lesions. I know it's hard, but don't scratch itchy ringworm spots. This can spread the infection to other parts of your body or to other people.

Hair Loss

Ringworm can produce embarrassing scalp hair loss. Ringworm hair loss can range from slight thinning to full blown bald patches and spots. As if that isn't bad enough, your doctor may not even realize the cause of your thinning hair is related to ringworm. They might mistake your case of ringworm for simple dandruff.

Scalp ringworm symptoms can also look like dermatitis, alopecia areata, psoriasis, and even nervous hair pulling. Black dot ringworm in often seen in kids. Hair breaks off at the scalp surface and you can see partial hairs beneath the surface of the skin.

By the way, black dot simply refers to the what the hair looks like under the skin: black dots. In theory, you could have blond dot or red dot ringworm it simply depends on the hair color.

Getting prompt treatment for ringworm hair loss is of utmost importance. Why? No treatment or a lag in treatment could lead to permanent follicle scarring. That means the hair probably won't grow back.

Insist that your family doctor or dermatologist check for ringworm and other tineas before dismissing your hair loss as stress-induced, hormonal, or age-related.


Are you a person with pigmented skin? People of color may not display the usual red oval shaped rashes associated with ringworm. In darker skin, ringworm rashes can appear black, brown, or even purplish in hue due to the presence high levels of skin melanin. Melanin is what adds color to the eyes, hair, and skin. It also protects skin from sun damage.

Melanin can also make the skin more prone to unwanted darkening. For those with darker skin, post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation is a condition you'll want to watch for as your ringworm heals.

With post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, healing ringworm spots can turn dark in color and take weeks or even months to fade back to the skin's original color.

Tinea Incognito

The name sounds mysterious, doesn't it? Tinea incognito just means a skin fungus that has masked or hidden ringworm symptoms. Generally, the tell-tale signs and symptoms of ringworm have been suppressed by the use of topical or oral steroids.

So, instead of the typical itchy, scaly rash, you might get pus filled lesions, skin darkening, and broken dilated blood vessels near the affected area. With tinea incognito, your ringworm could even look like poison ivy.

Steroids (also known as corticosteroids) lower the body's ability to fight off infections and suppresses the immune system. Therefore, enabling ringworm to become more severe and widespread.

Be careful with self-diagnosing ringworm. You may think, “Hey, it's just a rash.” Then, put an over the counter hydrocortisone cream on your ringworm. Yes, it reduces itching, redness, and swelling. But, it doesn't kill the fungus. Used inappropriately, hydrocortisone creams can actually make ringworm worse. If in doubt, talk to your doctor.

No Symptoms

Sometimes, ringworm symptoms include no symptoms. That's right. No symptoms! Interestingly, some people can carry ringworm fungi yet develop no outward symptoms or signs of ringworm. But, you've been warned. These asymptomatic carriers can still infect others.

Return from Surprising Ringworm Symptoms to
The Ringworm Spot Home Page

Ringworm 101



Other Tineas