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Gentian Violet & Ringworm

Ringworm is a common fungal infection of the skin, scalp and nails. Gentian violet is an inexpensive and effective treatment for ringworm available without a prescription. If ringworm is identified and treated early it can be treated at home in about a month. However, seek the advice of a doctor if the infection does not clear up or if you have concerns that it is worsening.


Ringworm is a contagious fungus, not an actual worm. The fungus can spread from skin-to-skin contact with someone who is infected. Animals, including dogs and cats, can also carry ringworm and transmit it to humans.

Ringworm on the skin is typically identified by a red discoloration surrounding normal skin color resulting in a ringlike effect. On the scalp you might experience itching, redness and even bald patches. Nails infected with ringworm will be thick, discolored and break apart.

Gentian Violet

Gentian violet is an antifungal treatment used to treat ringworm. It is also known as methylroanilinium chloride. Gentian violet treatment for ringworm comes as a liquid so it can be applied topically to the skin. It is available without a prescription, or your doctor might recommend it after a consultation to diagnosis your condition.


Apply gentian violet to the affected area with a cotton swab. Typical instructions suggest two to three applications a day as treatment. Do not cover the infected area with any airtight bandage such as plastic wrap or bandages with adhesive on all four sides. You might have to treat the infected area for up to four weeks.


Store gentian violet at room temperature in a closed container. Do not allow it to freeze or to be near excessive heat. Gentian violet can also be used to treat thrush in children and older adults, but in terms of storage, keep it out of the reach of children at all times.


Ringworm is contagious. Though you might be applying gentian violet, it will take several applications, perhaps over many weeks, to treat the infection. During the infection period, wash your sheets and towels on a daily basis to help prevent the spread of the infection to family members. Gentian violet will also stain your skin and can permanently stain clothing. Take care to not get it on clothes.

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