Is It Ringworm or Eczema?

ringworm or eczema

Rashes are hard to deal with, especially if they look similar to other skin conditions. This particular incident made me question, “Is it ringworm or eczema?” Our first bought of eczema was with my first daughter. Her eczema was on every joint, it had no rhyme or reason. Her eczema was red & inflamed, then transitioned to extra thick, dry, blotchy skin that would eventually discolor as it healed. It looked like typical eczema I saw when I googled images online. My youngest, on the other hand, has some peculiar circular rashes on her trunk that weren’t healing like her other eczema patches. Actually, they weren’t healing at all.

I began to think, is this ringworm?

Eczema and ringworm can look alike and be confusing to diagnose. Here’s a few tips to help self diagnose if it’s ringworm or eczema.


Ringworm typically looks like dry, raised, round patch, which may be slightly red & itchy. As it heals, the center clears leaving a ring of rash on the outside of the circle. There are many cases, however, when the center doesn’t clear and the patch heals seemingly at the same time. Since it’s contagious by contact or by skin residue on clothing, etc.

Treatment is anti fungal cream for up to 4 weeks. Sometimes an internal treatment is required.

If new circular spots appear in different places, it can be an indicator that it’s ringworm.

Nummular Eczema:

This coin shaped eczema mimics the look of ringworm. It is also dry, raised, round, may be slightly red & itchy. Yet it is not contagious. This type of eczema may come and go in the same spot or area periodically. The treatment is steroids and/or antibiotics in case it has gotten infected or for stubborn cases. Sometimes it’s triggered by soaps or itchy fabrics.

Easy DIY Ringworm Remedies:

All of these remedies have anti fungal properties.

1) Rub raw slices of Papaya on the area or make a paste of Papaya seeds and water and leave it for 15 minutes. Repeat process several time a day and watch it heal. The same works with Garlic

2) Apply diluted apple cider vinegar & water (5 parts water/1 vinegar) to the area several times a day (every diaper change).

3) Apply tea tree oil on a cotton ball to an area after a base oil (olive oil or coconut oil has been applied)

Be sure to know little ones can be sensitive to tea tree oil.

Easy DIY Thick cream for numeral eczema:

The thing about eczema on the bum is that diapers absorb oils quickly. Here’s a thicker cream you can work for you:

Thick DIY Moisturizer:

  • 1/4 cup of oats (ground fine)
  • 3/4 cup of coconut oil
  • Few drops of rosemary oil {optional}
  • 1 tbsp of olive oil

*Grind the oats into a fine powder. Heat the coconut oil to a warm liquid, rosemary, then the oat powder. After fully stirred, add the olive oil. Remove from heat and pour into desired container for storage. (Preferably glass)

*Grinding the oats as fine as possible will prevent the oats from separating from the oils.

Thanks to DIY Confessions for this recipe.

Medicated Test using steroids:

Apply oil and a mild steroid to the area for 2 times daily for 2-3 days. Be sure to wash your hands thoroughly (& your little one’s) to prevent spreading in case it is ringworm. If the patch begins to heal, it was a case of eczema. If it gets worse or stays the same, it could be ringworm.

Of course, if you already use steroids or if concerns rise, a doctor’s visit may be needed to properly diagnose the area.

*One of our SMN parents, let us know that even using a small bit of steroids can cause Topical Steroid Withdrawal and steroid use is not recommended for long term use.

Still not sure?

A doctor can take a biopsy or scraping of the rash’s surface and determine if it’s ringworm or something else.

So what was my daughter’s patch?

I tend to stick to natural treatments, daily cream usage, wet wraps, diet changes, however this patch on my little one’s bum was stubborn and was getting more irritated due to the on and off wetness of diapers. Rarely, do I use steroids and I haven’t used them on her before. The rash was getting worse, and starting to turn into a peeling sore. Here’s what I did. At every diaper change, I applied olive oil, (she’s sensitive to coconut oil, which may work for you). Twice daily, I applied Desonide. On day 2, I was able to see that it was healing up, it was no longer peeling and becoming to be smooth to the touch vs. rough and dry. I also changed her diaper more frequently at the first signs of wetness.

I quickly realized that with the holidays, some foods were cooked with dairy based butter and milk, some of the foods she ate. While dairy doesn’t cause any life threatening issues, it flared her eczema on her bum and legs. Although the eczema on her legs was not circular, in this one area, 1 patch of nummular eczema made me question if it was ringworm. The lack of spreading and healing after a couple days with steroids let me know it wasn’t ringworm.

I continued with steroids once daily for a couple more days. After research on the DIY remedies, I really wish I would have tried one of those first vs. reach for asteroid.  ARG! I also removed any traces of dairy from her diet. I’ll keep an eye on her eczema to see if any other foods could be triggering flares. Researching DIY methods can give the same results and some times better results than prescription meds!

How did you determine what the rash was?

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