Ringworm is a very contagious skin disease which is transmitted through a family of fungi known as dermatophytes. This disease can affect the skin of the scalp, hands, feet, chest and the nails. The ringworm inflammation is seen like a darkened ring on the skin (hence the name; it has nothing to do with worms) covered with a silvery border. Ringworm spreads in a circular manner, and the skin inside keeps getting recovered. Hence there will be a dark ring with tender skin in the center. This is an indication of ringworm.
In Ayurveda, ringworm is known as dadru. Like almost all other skin diseases, it is also caused when the vata dosha is vitiated.
(1) Useful Herbs in the Treatment of Ringworm
1. Butea (Butea monosperma)
The seeds of butea are effective in treating several skin problems including ringworm and eczema. A poultice of the leaves is prepared and applied on the affected regions.
2. Cassia (Cassia fistula)
The leaves of the cassia are beneficial in the treatment of ringworm. They are ground into a paste and applied directly over the affected parts.
3. Coriander (Coriandrum sativum)
The juice of the coriander leaves mixed with some turmeric is generally given to a patient who suffers from ringworm. It is also helpful if the skin becomes excessively dry and develops ringworm, especially in the winter months.
4. Holy Basil (Ocimum sanctum)
The juice of the holy basil leaves are applied locally on the affected regions. The ringworm subsides after continuous application for a few days.
5. Leadwort (Plumbago zeylanica)
A mixture of the leaves of leadwort is made into a paste with salt and water. This is applied directly on the inflamed skin. This herb is beneficial even for the extremely obstinate ringworm marks.
6. Lemon Grass (Cymbopogon citratus)
A paste of the leaves of the lemon grass is mixed with buttermilk. Applying this on the affected skin helps treat ringworm.
7. Margosa (Azadiractha indica)
Known popularly as the neem tree in India, the margosa is one of the best treatments for ringworm and is used extensively in Ayurvedic medicine. It is used in a variety of ways for both internal and external administration.
8. Turmeric (Curcuma longa)
Turmeric is used since very ancient times in the treatment of ringworm. A solution of the turmeric powder is made and applied directly on the affected skin. Turmeric is also given mixed with honey to the patient in oral form.
(2) Dietary Treatments for Ringworm
Sour foods must be completely avoided in cases of ringworm. This includes curds, cheese and sour vegetables and fruits. Oily foods also aggravate the ringworm lesions. The same can be said about hot and spicy foods. Hence, all these kinds of foods must be avoided. Do not consume any preserved foods and beverages like tea and coffee. Chocolates are also prohibited.
Instead, bitter foods such as the bitter gourd, bitter drumstick and neem must be consumed. The diet must be kept natural and simple (i.e. with the minimal use of spices and artificial additives) as long as the ringworm persists. More greens must be consumed in the food in the form of salads, soups and vegetable dishes.
(3) Ayurvedic Treatments for Ringworm
The Ayurvedic treatment for ringworm makes extensive use of the neem. It is used in the following two ways:-
– The patient is made to bathe daily in water which was boiled earlier with neem leaves in it.
– The neem leaves are made into a paste and applied over the affected parts.
If the ringworm is chronic (i.e. it recurs repeatedly even after treated completely once), then the Paradadi or the Dadrughna balms are applied over the affected skin.
For internal administration, Shuddha Gandhaka is prescribed for ringworm patients. This is given in small doses of 200 milligrams twice a day with honey.
In ringworm, it is necessary to continue the medication for a few days even after the lesions seem to be apparently healed. This is important, or there could be chances of a recurrence. Ideally, the medication should be continued for one week more.
(4) Home Remedies for Ringworm
1. Slice open a raw papaya. Apply its juice on the affected parts of the skin. Alternatively you can also apply the peel of the papaya onto the skin and keep it tied like a bandage. This will provide a cooling effect, which will reduce the itching and help in quick healing.
2. Drink lots of vegetable soups with carrots, radish and spinach in them as important ingredients. These soups will keep the skin moist and help it to fight against the fungal infection that causes ringworm.
3. Prepare a paste of mustard seeds and apply it directly on the affected skin. You will get a slight tingling sensation, but that indicates the healing process has begun. The tingling sensation will subside in a while.
4. Ringworm can become aggravated due to itching. If the skin is dry, then itching can cause eruptions and bleeding of the skin. This can be avoided by keeping the skin supple by the application of coconut oil.