Q. I have had ringworm on my scalp for several years and cannot get rid of it no matter what I try. I wonder if there is a way to remedy this.

I also suffer from toenail fungus. Is there a reason why my body loves fungus so much? Could I add something to my diet to help?

A. Despite the name, ringworm is not a worm but a fungal infection. It produces itchy red patches that may blister and ooze. It is usually treated with antifungal medications, such as miconazole or clotrimazole. Doctors sometimes prescribe ketoconazole or itraconazole to be taken orally if the condition does not respond well to topical creams within about a month.

If you would like to try a natural treatment first, we offer you this tip from another reader:

“When I was a child in kindergarten 65 years ago, I got ringworm. My grandmother took a fresh black walnut, cut it and rubbed the juice from the green skin of the nut on the ringworm site. It went away in a few days.”

Another reader offered this:

“I’ve read a couple of questions about ringworm in your column and want to give you the benefit of my experience.

“I grew up in the country. As a teenager, I got ringworm on the back of my leg. Several things failed to cure it, and the affected area kept getting bigger.

“Then a neighbor told me to peel the green outer hull off a black walnut and rub the inside of the hull on the spot. She said it would stain my leg brown but kill the ringworm. I got a hull and rubbed it on. Within a day or two the problem began to resolve and a few days later it was completely gone. I know not everyone has a walnut tree, but this home remedy is worth a try.”

Sometimes fungus is an indication of elevated blood sugar. Try cutting back on sugar and starch to see if that helps. It may make no difference for the nail fungus, however. This can take a long time to treat because the nail has to grow out fungus-free. The doctor may prescribe a lacquer called ciclopirox (Penlac) to be applied daily. Many readers prefer less expensive home remedies for this condition.

Applying Vicks VapoRub to the affected nails, soaking the toes in Listerine or a dilute vinegar solution or a combination of the two, or swabbing the nails with hydrogen peroxide are all home remedies that have worked for some folks. You can learn about others in our Guide to Hair and Nail Care.

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  1. Linda

    I recently developed a red patch on my thigh that continued to grow in size. I am fairly sure it was ringworm. Since listerine is often mentioned as a cure for athlete’s foot, also a fungus, I thought I would try it for the ringworm. I applied compresses twice a day for about an hour. It took a while, about 20 days, but it worked! It might have taken less time if I had not stopped after 10 days, thinking it was gone. When it immediately started expanding, I tried again, until the redness was completely gone, plus a few extra days for good measure. Great cure!

  2. ladyliza

    I had ringworm earlier this year on my leg. I had read about raw apple cider vinaigre. It works! I noticed improvement in 4 days and by two weeks it was totally gone.

  3. Santosh G.

    Been trying to find cure for grand son’s scalp ringworm for past 8 years.
    Tried many medicines. Nothing working.
    Any help?

  4. P.M

    I have been struggling with scalp fungi for the past 5 years. It is so stressful what can I do to remove it please help.

    • Sophie

      Please try the only effective remedy that worked for me for a dreadful Tinea capitis infection I contracted 5 years ago. After 4 “expert dermatologists,” their hurriedly prescribed treatments/ medications, and progressively losing more and more hair – the patch was growing- THIS worked. Raw garlic juice, red onion juice & green tea- blended up and strained, applied on the entire scalp, and kept for ~30 minutes, before washing. The Sulfur contained in the Garlic & Onions kills the fungus, and penetrates the follicle to deep cleanse. It does take a few weeks for the deep itch to disappear. But persistence and hygiene have yielded positive results. Please consult your physician to check if you are allergic to Sulphur prior to trial. Good luck. S.

  5. brenda

    hi my son is 6 and has ringworm on his scalp for weeks nothing is working. did u say Listerine on the scalp or the toenail?

    • Welcome
      South Africa Pretoria

      I’ve been struggling with a ringworm for 3 Months now I have tried buctroBurn and some Athlete foot antifungal cream they never worked … WOW it felt this good after using Listerine , itchy free I am so happy with the results it’s clearing in less than 24 hours.

  6. cl

    I used clear nail polish to cover the area, and kept applying 2 or 3 times a day. After 2 days it was dramatically reduced and after 5 days it was completely gone! The nail polish basically starves the fungus of oxygen and kills it. This worked for 3 places on my body.

  7. SW

    I had the same problem on my scalp for years….. Olive leaf capsules from olivus.com worked like a charm.
    To get rid of the toenail fungus, I used a very coarse file, filed my toenail down so thin it almost bled…. Then I soak my feet in straight apple cider vinegar every day. Takes a while to grow out, but it worked.
    PEOPLE’S PHARMACY RESPONSE: Do be careful not to file down so far the toes bleed!

  8. ladyliza

    I read about the wackiest cure for nail fungus the other day, and a lot of people on that site are having success with it. All it is, is cornmeal mixed with water into a paste. Soak the damaged nails in this. It may take a few weeks, so be patient. Try it 3 nights/week. Evidently the cornmeal (pure variety, not the mixes) has a fungus that is natural in it and the fungus is what eats up the toenail fungus.

  9. LorenzoD

    The use of the rind of unripe Black Walnuts is an old medicine of the Cherokee Peoples…used fresh or as a tincture. So called English Walnuts do not contain the same properties. “Green” hulls only happen in the summer and early fall but a tincture can be available all year. Traditionally, this preparation is also used for internal ‘worms’.

  10. L W

    I tried medicines the doctor gave me. Each time he increased the strength. Nothing worked. Then I tried Listerine. What a relief. It worked quickly.

  11. Karen

    Given that walnut trees themselves are pretty toxic to everything, I’m not surprised this works well. Chainsaw carvers have been known to break out in a poison-ivy-like rash when exposed to sawdust from walnut wood. Walnut sawdust used as animal bedding can kill the animals bedded in it.
    Suspect that a pecan hull might have a similar effect, and around here, might be easier to find. Not as strong, though, and might take longer to work.

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