Ringworm vs Eczema

Eczema is a very common skin condition, and because of that, a lot of people often misdiagnose themselves as having eczema when in actuality, it is something else, like ringworm. It is really easy to confuse the two because, to the untrained eye, they look incredibly similar. Knowing the difference is important because they both respond to different treatments; eczema treatments can exacerbate ringworm and vice versa. 


Ringworm is an infection commonly caused by a fungus known as a dermatophyte. Medically, ringworm is known as dermatophytosis. Ringworm causes lesions, and these legions often have a clear, although often irregular, boundary. Essentially, they look like a raised red ring. Sometimes the blotches are red inside, and sometimes the centre is healthy. The rings often spread over time, and they are incredibly itchy. The lesions are usually found in moist areas that are kept damp with sweat. 

Prevention is important. Try to avoid touching pets or other people with ringworm because it can be incredibly contagious. If you have been exposed, make sure that you wash your clothes and bedding in hot water to kill the bacteria, as well as taking a hot shower to remove the bacteria from your body too. It can be treated with anti-fungal drugs or cream in topical and oral dosages. There are a lot of resources online to help you decide on your course of treatment, like Patient’s posts, so check them out.


Eczema is categorised by skin inflammation. The inflammation is usually the result of an irritant coming into contact with the skin. It is a chronic skin condition for which there is no cure, although some people do simply grow out of it. However, eczema can be managed with topical treatments. Eczema can look similarly to ringworm in that it can cause itchy red blotches, which mottle the appearance of the skin. 

Eczema is often the result of a hypersensitivity to an allergen; the allergen might be environmental like perfumes, dust, grass or pet dander, but it can also be dietary, and the rash occurs or worsens because of something that was ingested. In addition, eczema is very drying on the skin simply because the skin struggles to lock the moisture in. As a result, the skin becomes damaged, and this can leave it more prone to infections. 

The Differences

There are several ways that you can tell the difference between ringworm and eczema. Firstly, ringworm is an infection, whereas eczema is not. Eczema does not often occur randomly; most people with eczema are born with it or have a family history of it. Ringworm can affect anyone at any time.

Ringworm is often temporary, only lasting for a short time, whereas most people have chronic eczema, although it may be acute in some cases. Ringworm also tends to occur exclusively in moist areas, but eczema can occur anywhere on the body. Eczema treatments can worsen ringworm and vice versa. 

The Bottom Line

While it is true that eczema and ringworm look somewhat similar, it should be relatively easy to tell the difference. If you have never suffered from eczema before and your lesions are hollow in the middle, then you are likely suffering from ringworm. If you already experience chronic eczema, then any new lesions are likely to be a flare-up of your skin condition. If you really aren’t sure, then head to the pharmacy for some advice.