Coconut oil has antifungal properties that may help minor fungal infections, like ringworm. But some people need a stronger OTC or prescription antifungal.

Coconut oil is a common ingredient used in alternative remedies for a large number of different ailments, infections, and injuries. This is thanks to numerous healing and health-boosting properties.

One of the conditions coconut oil is used to treat is ringworm, a contagious fungal infection that affects the skin.

Medically known as tinea, ringworm is a fungal infection that affects the skin’s top layer. It’s also contagious. Despite its name, there is no actual worm involved; instead, the infection is named after its characteristic red circular rash.

Ringworm infections may be itchy and often begin as a flat, scaly area on the skin. Once the circular rash forms, the inside may contain clear skin or red bumps.

Ringworm may also be referred to by different names depending where on the body it appears. Variations of the infection include athlete’s foot and jock itch.

Usually, over-the-counter (OTC) antifungal treatments will knock out most cases of mild ringworm quickly. Apply these treatments twice per day, or as otherwise directed by the instructions. These often come in lotions or creams, but they may also come in powder form. Powder is particularly common for athlete’s foot.

Examples of OTC antifungals include:

  • terbinafine (Lamisil AT)
  • clotrimazole (Lotrimin AF)
  • miconazole (Micaderm, Mitrazol)
  • ketoconazole (Xolegel)

If OTC treatments don’t work, your doctor can prescribe prescription antifungal medications. These include creams and lotions with a higher percentage of antifungal ingredients.

If these don’t work, your doctor can prescribe oral antifungal pills. If the infection is severe, you may have to use them for anywhere between one to three months.

Aside from antifungal treatments, you can speed up treatment time by keeping the skin clean and dry. Ringworm thrives in warm, moist environments, so make sure you’re showering and changing damp or sweaty clothes quickly. Getting more sunlight can also help to knock out an infection more quickly.

Coconut oil has long been used as a treatment for ringworm for several reasons. The first is that it has strong antifungal benefits that can eradicate mild or superficial fungal infections when applied topically. These benefits come from the lauric acid and antimicrobial lipids found in the medium chain fatty acids in coconut oil.

Coconut oil’s antifungal benefits shouldn’t be ignored, as one study found that it was effective in treating drug-resistant Candida species, possibly even more so than other OTC remedies.

Coconut oil is also used to help wounds heal faster. Its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and moisturizing benefits can soothe skin irritation and flakiness by lubricating the skin and reducing healing time. This can also help to decrease redness and other visible symptoms of the infection.

Using coconut oil to treat ringworm is exceptionally easy. Keep the area clean and dry before applying melted coconut oil to the affected area with a cotton ball or cotton swab. Rub it in thoroughly.

Make sure you wash your hands even if you don’t think there is risk of contamination so you won’t spread it to other areas of your body or to another person.

Apply coconut oil to the affected area between four and six times a day.

Combining coconut oil with other antifungal and antimicrobial ingredients may help increase its effectiveness. Tea tree oil is another common remedy that’s used to treat ringworm. Mix two drops of tea tree oil in with a tablespoon of melted coconut oil and apply it to the affected area.

Even after your symptoms have resolved or disappeared, continue using coconut oil on the affected area for at least one week. This will make sure that the infection is gone and reduce the risk of recurrence.

Research indicates that coconut oil’s antifungal and moisturizing qualities are effective in treating mild cases of ringworm. Even better, coconut oil generally comes with less risk of side effects like irritation than other OTC treatments or prescription medications. It’s also something you likely have on hand.

Remember to use the treatments for at least one week after your symptoms are gone to make sure that the infection is gone, too. This also reduces the risk of recurrence, either at the original site or on another area of the body.

If your ringworm symptoms haven’t gone away after a week and a half of using coconut oil or other OTC remedies, make an appointment to see your doctor. It’s likely that you’ll need prescription medications to treat the infection successfully. Talk to your doctor about continuing the use of coconut oil once medications are begun.