Herbal Treatments for Ringworm

Ringworm is something of a misnomer. It’s a fungal infection of tinea corporis, not a worm. According to the Mayo Clinic, ringworm leaves round, itchy patches on the skin. The outer area is red and a bit raised, while the center is paler. It most commonly infects children and can be passed through contact with another person who has ringworm or by spores carried in pets’ fur. The Mayo Clinic advises that you first try home treatments, and if the infection hasn’t cleared up in four weeks, visit your doctor. For those who prefer a natural solution, several herbal treatments are as effective as over-the-counter creams.

Tea Tree Oil

In “Healing Without Medication,” Dr. Robert Rister calls tea tree oil “the most effective herbal treatment for ringworm.” His claim is backed by studies. According to a study published in the Australian Journal of Dermatology by Dr. M.M. Tong, tea tree oil wasn’t as effective in eliminating a tinea infection as tolnaftate but provided more relief from scaling, inflammation and itching. And the “PDR for Herbal Medicines” cites a study published in the Journal of Family Practice in 1994 that found tea tree oil to be 50 percent more effective in healing nail fungus infections than Clotrimazole, which the Mayo Clinic suggests for ringworm treatment. Dr. Rister advises that you use either a cream containing 8 percent to 20 percent tea tree oil, or a liquid containing 40 percent tea tree oil, and apply it to the affected area two to three times a day.


In “1000 Cures for 200 Ailments,” herbalism expert Dr. David Kiefer suggests the use of garlic to treat ringworm. Increased consumption of garlic boosts the entire immune system, acting internally as an antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal agent and increasing the production of natural killer cells that attack invaders. External application is even more effective against fungal infections because of its ajeone content, which the “PDR for Herbal Medicines” explains is as potent an antifungal as most over-the-counter topical creams. Dr. Kiefer says that you can apply crushed, raw garlic to the affected area two to three times a day, or you can find a 1 percent ajeone topical gel and apply it twice daily for seven to 10 days.

Oregano Oil

Dr. Geovanni Espinosa, naturopathy expert for “1000 Cures for 200 Ailments,” suggests oregano oil because of its strong antifungal properties. He advises that you take five drops under the tongue. If you find that too potent, mix five drops into a glass of water. You can also find oregano oil in capsule form, which you can take in 500mg daily. Dr. Kiefer advises that you not take oregano oil if you’re allergic to plants in the mint family, and to take the recommended dose. Larger doses can cause nausea and block iron absorption.


Dr. Kiefer says although Echinacea may not be an effective treatment on its own, when taken orally in combination with topical herbs it can be effective against fungal infections. The “PDR for Herbal Medicines” says the proper dose is 6mL to 9mL of juice of the pressed herb taken daily. Dr. Kiefer advises it not be taken by pregnant women or for longer than three weeks.

About this Author

Jeffrey Rice became an ACE-accredited personal trainer in 2007, and began writing about fitness to support his business. Soon, however, he found himself writing more than training, and has since written health, fitness and supplement articles for numerous websites. He holds a M.F.A. in creative writing from Cleveland State University.