This week, I have noticed a surprising increase in the number of people who approach me to ask “What happened to your face?” In the past, this question has been meant as some kind of insult, and it usually only pops up about once a week – typically Thursdays – when my enemies start feeling particularly wily. But this week…baby, this week, it’s non-stop face-questioning action. I’m talking everybody from professors to presidents, students to Student Life workers, ladies and lords alike – everybody you can imagine is asking, insisting, demanding to know – what happened to my face?

Seriously, is this some kind of sick joke? Am I missing something? Did some new low-budget smash-hit movie just get released where the nerdy main character always says “What happened to your face?” and now everybody thinks its hip to quote it? Because if that’s it, it’s not funny and you should stop it. Gosh.

The truth is, you don’t want to know what happened to my face. If I tell you, you won’t want to be my friend. This has been scientifically proven through a series of controlled experiments conducted throughout the week. On average, 8 out of 10 people, upon discovering what’s “wrong” with my face, will perform the following four-step reaction: 1) Stop smiling, 2) Step back, 3) Say “Oh”, “Ew” or “That’s disgusting, get the heck away from me you disgusting piece of crap,” and then 4) Turn and run as far away from me as possible. I am becoming the campus leper, exiled and invisible in your very midst. Friends (soon to abandon me) and strangers (soon to avoid me), let it be known: I have ringworm.

It’s on my chin, perched there like a miniature Jabba the Hutt, grunting and oozing with infectious joy. I have no idea how I contracted it. I consulted my trusty friend The Internet, and he informed me that “Ringworm is a contagious skin infection very common among cats and high-school wrestling teams”. You’d think these criteria would immediately rule me out, but apparently I am a cat. Or maybe a 16-year-old wrestler. Or maybe a 16-year-old wrestling cat. With ringworm. On my chin.

Ringworm infection on Kevan Gilbert's chin

Doc Hitchman tells me it’s a “fungal infection”. Although the idea of mold and mushrooms growing on my face isn’t very appealing, it’s a relief to know that “ringworm” does not mean there are actual worms in my chin, squirming with parasitic delight. However, in my most reason visit, the Good Doctor made the disturbing revelation that my fungal infection was starting to be taken over by “colonies” of bacteria.

The colonization of my chin started sometime last week, when bacterial settlers traveling from Europe on the Mayflower came ashore directly above my goatee. Currently, they seem to be celebrating Thanksgiving. Memos from the colonial governor inform me that they have established contact with the local natives, and have already started to trade goods. And by “trade goods”, he means “Violently attack my chin with machetes o’ fire”.

I’m really hoping they pack up their ships and sail back to the motherland pretty soon. In the meantime, I still gotta put up with the questions. No matter who I talk to, somebody taps their own chin with a finger and looks at me curiously: “Whatcha got there?” Hey, it’s ringworm, okay? It happens. To cats.

Maybe this is a stretch, but I think everybody has ringworm. Not literally, of course. It’s a metaphor. Ever screwed up in the midst of friends & enemies? Ever lapse into autopilot as your faith fails you? Experienced failure, weakness, despair? It’s called making mistakes. It’s called being human. And for some reason, it’s like walking around with a big swollen rash on your face. We’re never gonna really find out what this “authenticity” thing means until we can acknowledge that every single person around us is just as infected as we are. As Jesus once said, “How can you talk about the zit on your brother’s face when you’ve got ringworm on your chin? Go join a high-school wrestling team or something.”

by Kevan Gilbert

Update: Three Years Later

The affliction described above was taking place on my face in February of 2005. I wanted to respond to the comments below with an official update: yes, the ringworm went away — I don’t have it anymore. It took about a month to subside, and a little while longer for the scab to go away. The doctor prescribed a cream called Lamisil, which is an anti-fungal, and there were some oral pills involved too, to deal with the bacterial infection. For those of you wondering where the ringworm infection was on my face, I’ve included a picture below. And if you’re wondering what it looks like now, in 2008, there’s only minor scarring, which is only visible from really close-up (check out the picture for delightful proof).

Ringworm infection, before and after
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Kevan Gilbert

Kevan Gilbert is a writer, speaker and content strategy on the West Coast of BC, Canada.


  1. A "Customer"

    well i have and had ringworm, and to tell you make sure that it is completely gone, get lamisil you can buy it from a local drug store and it works great, but make sure that you put the cream on for at least a week after the ring is gone to kill the deep layers, because if you dont it will come back, trust me i know, darn minden wrestlers

  2. i am a vet tech so ringworm was and is a constant threat. i got a huge one on the back of my neck (wasnt as bad as yours) and it itched and stung like crazy. i tried the lamisil but it wasnt working so i tried monistat cream( u no for vag yeast infection…gross i no) and it worked like a charm. i ve gotten it three other times and i stick with the monistat.. it works good. hopefully u never get it again sorry man…


  3. Hello.
    I have a small patch of ringworm on my scalp at the back of my head.
    its crusty and itchy and sometimes it bleeds.
    I take the pills for it, i tried lamisil but it wasnt working, but now im using Oil Of Oregano.
    It works amazingly, it burns a bit, but it works better than those perscribed drugs.

  4. mother of wormy child

    My son has a ringworm on his shoulder. He is 9 and was concerned. We googled and chose this site to research the infliction. As I read aloud your plight, we both laughed and the worry went away.. You have a great sense of humor! Glad those pilgrims went home…

  5. This is Jes writing. My friend LIzz, who is currently sitting across from me rambling about the movie we are watching, has ringworm on her neck and shoulder. I was googling info for her and came across the picture of your chin. I have two things to comment about it. A.) We both agree that despite the “blob” on your chin you are rather cute in that picture. Lizz would probably have a different and inevitably more colorful way of phrasing that. B.) Lizz said she would be your friend even with said “blob” on your chin. Simply because you were hilarious in your post, and seemed to, online atleast, take it in good humor. I happen to agree with her.

    Signing off

    Jes and Lizz

  6. that is the most disguisting thing i have ever seen in my entire life. seriously, you should’ve worn a paper bag. I sure would’ve.

  7. You are the funniest person in the world. You just made my night. I’m going to a party but this was better. I cried I laughed so hard.

  8. I had a ringworm once. My ex-boyfriend’s mother picked up a stray cat, which proceeded to “share the wealth” – sorry about you face though. If there is any consolation, I think your an excellent writer, and your story made me laugh out loud.

  9. hello my cats have ringworm and my daughter has got it to and yes it looks like a ring but i have started to get little red bumps like a bug bit and it really is itchy. dose it always have to look like the rings or can you have red dots all over your body in different places?

  10. try blue star and bleach it stings but it works.rub the bleach on with a cloth then use blue star

  11. Dude named Kevin,

    It’s amazing–the things that pop into my head … For example, I was sitting at my computer designing makeup brochures and said to myself, “I should google pictures of ringworm.” I don’t have it and haven’t since I was about 12 (so it’s been a good 15 years), but that’s the way my brain works. (Sometimes it’s unfortunate.) Your thumbnail, naturally, was the grossest thing to pop up (and the 2nd photo listed, so kudos on your new-found fame!) so I just HAD to see the full-blown pic. “Eeeeeeeeeew” doesn’t even begin to describe my reaction … but then I started reading and ooooooh man … you are sooooooooo funny! My ringworm adventure soon turned into a “what will he say next” quest. I’m sorry for your dilemma–really. That must’ve sucked. Good thing it didn’t last very long in the scheme of things. I don’t believe for a second that you don’t have friends, though, cuz if I had people as funny as you around, I’d never leave home without them in my pocket! Thanks for putting a smile on my face. =) Have a great day!

  12. ringwormmmyyy

    I have ringworm on my leg…and it’s small…and looks like a scab.
    but it itches like HELLLLL!
    I’m starting to get more spots on my leg and there’s one on my back.
    I caught it early, so it’s starting to go away early.
    p.s. your cute and hilarious

  13. that was discusting to look at but as you read your story it made you forget about that creature on your face. thanks for the great story and advice. i will be visiting a drug store for lamisil tomorrow,i have a small pest on my ankle. Its summertime and i have to have them out.

  14. Daniella

    My friend has ringworm. She got it from high school wrestling. It’s contracted when you share sweat with another infectious person…and it only runs on one side of your body, following the bloodstream.
    Good to know you got it cleared up!

  15. We just found out my boyfriend has ringworm.. its on the side of his face and 2 on his neck. He has no idea how the hell he got it but we went to a clinic and they gave him a cream. I think we caught it early so im glad about that. Which sucks is that at the moment i have a Virus (The Flu) and he has that… so its kinda hard to cuddle and my cat misses petting lol

    Happy to know you got rid of it and hopefully u never get it again.. :)

  16. yeah i have just noticed i have ringworm as well at first something was itchin on the back of my neck n then it started appearin more on my arms n legs i work with alot of kids and i think that may be the cause.

  17. It’s a shame how people treated you like you were the plague itself. There are many nasty manifestations humans deal with quite often. Just because it’s not visible doesn’t mean it isn’t there. Yeast infections for example, most common in the vagina, in the mouth as thrush, or on the bottom as diaper rash. Dandruff, athletes foot, lice, scabies… they are all more common than you think. It doesn’t make a person nasty or unclean for having it. Generally it’s from being at the wrong place at the wrong time in the wrong conditions. I’m glad your face healed up nicely. :)

  18. I am sorry that people are that cruel so say such things even if you had ringworm on your chin I wouldn’t run away from you. You seem like a genuine, great, fun person and I am glad you made it through that with your sense of humor. My friend just found out she has ringworm just before I found this site, and your story just made me want to punch those people with their little comments. I’m just saying I wouldn’t have been able to walk away with out making them feel bad for trying to use a medical condition against me. I hope your doing well, thanks for your story :)

  19. THIS GUY

    great post i suspect ringworm on my scalp area and im using lamisil now so i hope it works… if i remember i will let you know how that works out, also great storyline to the tragedy furthermore i hope roeslitas family dies of cancer (too much?), but seriously something unfortunate should happen to her/”it” maybe herpies.

  20. Christiana

    How did you not realize your a 16 year old wrestling cat? lol its obvious! lol anyway, im sorry about that, glad to know it went away. All these people are posting comments about having it on their neck and face. I got it lucky. Somehow i got it on my leg/thigh. It went away fairly quickly. And about the picture, no offence, but the word EEEWWWW doesn’t just seem to express it! lol

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