Fungal infections like ringworms (which is actually not a worm like the ones you’re used to) are fairly easy to eliminate if you follow the proper methods.
The main goal should be to try to clear the infected area and get rid of the source of the infection.
You’re probably wondering, does sunlight kill ringworm and its fungal spores?
Yes, but with some major caveats that means it should only be relied on as a helpful supplemental treatment.
- UV rays can get rid of ring worm but only after a long period of exposure (which could be harmful for your skin if achieved through natural sunlight)
- Heat from sunlight can also kill ringworms but only at temperatures of 110 degrees F (43.3 degrees celcius), which would be dangerous for you over long periods.
Sunlight is one of the many remedies you can use to assist with ringworm treatment but shouldn’t be the primary treatment.
Sunlight, precisely, Ultraviolet (UV) light, can be used effectively against ringworms and prolonged exposure to UV light can get rid of ringworms on surfaces or your body, but this carries with it some dangers.
It is a good idea to visit a doctor and seek medical attention for your fungal infection for the best treatment method, usually a topical treatment or antifungal ointment, especially if the problem persists for a long time.
This article will discuss in more depth the effectiveness of UV rays and sunlight against ringworm infections, as well as the things you should watch out for when treating the affected area.
Does Direct Sunlight Kill Ringworm?
Yes, sunlight contains many properties and electromagnetic waves, of which UV rays are one powerful property that may help with ringworm contamination as shown in studies.
Prolonged exposure to UV rays, regardless of whether you have a ringworm infection, is not recommended.
While the ozone layer around the earth is present to filter out at least 99% of the UV radiation, the remaining 1% is good enough to kill microscopic bacteria that cause fungal infections..but also cause harm to your skin.
Specifically for ringworm, UV rays are effective for helping get rid of the infection on your body and on different surfaces like fabric and steel.
You can get ringworm skin infections almost anywhere on your skin, but it typically occurs in areas with a lot of moisture, such as:
- between the toes (commonly known as athlete’s foot)
- groin area (commonly known as jock itch)
- behind the knees
- scalp (tinea capitis) which can be treated with anti fungal shampoo
- face (tinea faciei)
It can also appear in frequently exposed body parts like your arms.
If you have an infection on your skin, take the following actions to help you get rid of the ringworm:
- Wash your hands thoroughly after treating your infected area and be sure you thoroughly DRY the area afterwards
- Use disinfectants to clean your hands throughout the day frequently
- Wash your clothes, sheets, towels, and bedding with bleach and soap
- Avoid scratching the infected area
- Use ultraviolet light to sanitize your belongings
These actions should help kill ringworm spores in mild cases but aren’t always enough and infected areas can even last more than a year (and beyond!) if left untreated.
Ringworm infections may pass on through contaminated surfaces like clothing, bedding, surfaces, objects, or even an animal.
Make sure you vacuum the area as thoroughly as possible and disinfect surfaces where possible.
For surfaces like floors and objects, make sure that you clean the area before you start the disinfection process.
On Fabric (Like Clothes)
Throw your clothes, towels, bed sheets, and blankets into the washer; use bleach and detergent to kill all the fungus.
You can also choose to use hot water to wash your belongings and finally dry them under the sun for extra protection.
On Pets or Livestock (Like Cats or Cattle)
You may contract a ringworm infection through livestock, cats and other pets or other animal species .
Dogs and cats are carriers of many fungal and bacterial infections like ringworm. In fact, ringworm can affect a cat’s entire body.
Cattle are also domestic and commercial animals that can carry fungal infections.
Take your pets to the vet for a checkup if you’re worried about their hair loss or their skin getting scabby or scaly. A veterinary dermatology department can diagnose this.
Make sure you clean all the things your pet encounters, such as the couch, table, chair, bedding, carpets etc too as fungus lives on surfaces too.
Cleaning your pets’ bowls regularly and cleaning your own hands immediately after coming in contact with animals to avoid unwanted infections is also essential as fungus likes most environments.
Does UV Light Kill Ringworm?
Yes, under certain conditions like long periods of time and depending which UV ray.
UV-C is most effective and safest on humans for treating fungus and bacteria, though UV-B (1) and broad spectrum (all three, which is what sunlight is) may also work but are more dangerous.
UV-C light treatment may be beneficial for anyone with a fungal infection like ringworm. In fact, another study (2) found 254nm (which falls under UV-C) to be the most beneficial.
Since sunlight is a natural UV light source, you can expose your infected area under the sun for a potentially easy treatment method.
However, even though UV rays help treat the infection, it is recommended to avoid basking in the sun for too long without applying sunscreen.
It’s always better to seek medical advice for infections rather than attempt to treat them at home without professional guidance.
How Long Does UV Light Take to Kill Ringworm?
If you are using a concentrated UV light source, it may take about 1 to 2 hours to kill the ringworm fungus.
In one study, it took around 75 minutes to minimize fungus on hard surfaces and less than 10 minutes on fabric.
This period also depends on the UV ray’s intensity and the infection’s severity.
The more serious the infection, the more likely you will need to seek other means of treatment along with UV ray exposure.
Ringworm Treatment With Sunlight: FAQs
In our extensive research online, we found that these were the most common questions that were asked when it comes to treating ringworm and ringworm spores using sunlight or UV light:
Does Heat From the Sun Kill Ringworm?
Yes, but only in high heat in prolonged temperatures of 110 degrees F or 43.3 degrees celcius. (3)
This would make heat a non-viable and unsafe way to treat ringworm for an extended period of time as it would need to be a scorching hot day to reach these temperatures.
As mentioned before, sunlight is a natural source of UV light, as well as heat, so it makes sense that sunlight exposure can help treat ringworm infections, but don’t sit exposed in sunshine on a day that hot.
Since UV light takes about an hour or two to kill the infection, you will have to expose the infected area to sunlight for that length of time, which this isn’t a good idea on days that hot.
One thing to note is that the infected area needs to be free of moisture before sun exposure.
Either way, treating the infection with medication in conjunction with UV treatment and heat will ensure a speedy recovery from the ringworm infection.
Does Sun Irritate Ringworm?
It depends on the type of ringworm.
Tinea faciei, which is ringworm on the face, is photosensitive and will be irritated by sunlight in humans.
This is a harsh mix since ringworm on its own can be irritating and itchy without adding this to the mix.
Although sunlight can kill ringworms on your skin or other surfaces, seeking medical help or getting proper medical care is still most recommended to get rid of your infection.
Should I Cover My Ringworm From the Sun? (Or Leave Skin Exposed)
UV ray treatment works best when you don’t have any barriers on your skin, specifically the infected area.
However, Prolonged exposure to the sun without sunscreen can also cause additional damage to the skin.
Should I Cover My Ringworm when I Sleep?
Although starting treatment does not mean you are less contagious, it’s worse if you keep the area covered to prevent spread.
Always let the infected area breathe.
There should be as less moisture retention as possible in the infected area.
Hence, keeping the area free of covering, lying bandages, or tight clothes is best.
Though, this could create a vicious circle of re-infection as the fungus and ringworm spores spread to your bedsheets.
This could mean you contract ringworm again and again until the spores are eliminated from the surface.
Treating Ringworm Fungus With Sunlight: Yes, or No? Our Summary
Exposing your infected area to concentrated UV rays is an effective way to get rid of the infection under medical care but the level required from sunlight is unlikely to be enough on its own, or if it is, it will be harmful to your skin.
It is not recommended that you sit under the hot sun, exposing yourself to UV rays without applying sunscreen.
Thankfully, there are some treatments that allow the use of artificially generated UV light that can spot treat your infections under medical assistance if that’s the route you want to go.
You can also visit a doctor and get oral or topical medication to eliminate the problem.
For most people, antifungal creams, antifungal soap or oral medication is the only reliable killer and a more universally effective and cost-effective ringworm treatment.
Also, to ensure you don’t end up with such infections in the future, clean all surfaces in the house that might be home for these fungal infections to thrive.
(1) Journal of Dermatological Treatment – https://www.dermatologyadvisor.com/home/topics/infections/refractory-pityriasis-versicolor-treated-with-narrow-band-uv-b-phototherapy/
(2) Berrin Ozcelik , 2007. Fungi/Bactericidal and Static Effects of Ultraviolet Light in 254 and 354 nm Wavelengths . Research Journal of Microbiology, 2: 42-49.
(3) Environmental Decontamination https://www.uwsheltermedicine.com/library/guidebooks/ringworm/environmental-decontamination