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
Get email updates from Kevan
Short, fun, infrequent email updates about new talks, posts and books

Kevan Gilbert

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


  1. Bless your heart…I had a pretty nasty case of ringworm in the crook of my left elbow (itches like crazy doesn’t it) but if there were a prize for this horrible stuff you would win! I hope you have healed nicely and the assholes who have nothing better to do other than ask “hey…what’s that” find another occupation.

  2. Hahahaha, I was just cleaning out my favorite bookmarks and I came across this page again. I remember bookmarking it because it was so hilarious I had to share it with a few co-workers. I happened across it when I was looking up info on a rash. Anyways, I hope by now the ringworm is gone. And great writing!!!! :)

  3. I’m sure it’s gone. and I see you don’t post often- if ever anymore.

    I did this search… on ringworm “Why?”, you ask? – perhaps you didn’t ask but I’m telling you the obvious anyway. I have ringworm. It doesn’t look quite that bad. Hell, how would I know… it’s on my hairline on my neck. I took photos with my digi and the best that I can tell is that I looks like something from Night of the Living Dead.

    I’m kinda scared. And it hurts so bad.

    I was going to stop applying rubbing alcohol regularly because I haven’t seen it get better. Now that I’ve noticed how bad it can get I will continue to apply my treatment. I figure if it’s not getting better the least I can do is keep it from being more infected.

    I feel so bad that you had this on your chin. Mind is hidden and I’ve been very selfconscious.

    Take care and thanks for making me not feel so damned alone.

    This stuff is sick! ug.

  4. i was researching ringworm since my sister recently discovered she had it and i came across this. you sir, are brilliant. we to take a crappy situation and put a comedic twist on it. bravo!

  5. Hi! Very funny writing. I had ringworm on my cheek my freshman year of high school (you can imagine). I contracted it after taking home the little plastic doll one weekend for a parenting lesson in Home Ec. Returned the doll, got ringworm. Didn’t seem like a fair trade to me. Luckily, I got an A. Anyway, I made the mistake of rubbing Tea Tree Oil on it then putting a band aid on over night. The Tea Tree Oil may have killed the fungus, but it burnt my skin, leaving the lovely round dot on my cheek the entire year. I put make up on, which for some reason only made it darker. It did fade though, thankfully, one week after summer vacation started. Luckily, my case wasn’t as bad as your’s, but I do feel for you completely! My experience did give me character, and a whole lot more compassion for others! Hopefully you’re all healed up, and bless your heart for having such a good sense of humor!

  6. Hello I love the story, you make your point and some fun, I feel you tho I have ringworm on my foot and my dog has it on his stomach so I take it the mutt gave me his infection.

  7. i think that is just gross but i feel bad for you because you will have it on your face forever and people will maybe make fun of me and i feel really bad you should stay away from people so they wont get it and you ringworm is really bad and infected i showed my mom this picture and she just scream and yelled “what the heak is that?” i replied”ringworm” every body in my family was scared that they might get it but luckly they wont get it again i said i feel really really really really really really bad

  8. I’m here only to clarify.

    Fret not, Samantha. Ringworm is a temporary affliction. I have seen Kevan recently and I assure you that he does not, any longer, have ringworm.

  9. oh lord I had that same exact thing on the top of my head about 11 years ago it was horrible. you probably wont be able to grow hair there for years, well that’s what happened to me.

  10. I just had ring worm all over my entire body! i was out of work for over a week. I thought it was some type of posion ivey, but i went to the hospital and they told me it was ring worm. i got that medication and found out where it was from. it came from my friends cat who infected the entire room i was sleeping in!!! thats why i got it all over my body

    needless to say, its gone now.. took two weeks but it was the worst crap!!! love the story man, i had the same sense of humor at work with my coworkers.

  11. WTF!!! dude thats just fuken gross !! oh and jen you are one sick bitch ugh !! that shit is not funny fuck i think your the one with the problem your head is to deep in your ass .

  12. OMG!!! I have the exact samething on my chin!! just as big but not as bad…i soo feel your pain when people look at your chin and not at you and when they ask me what up with your chin and i tell them they just look at me as if im going to give them coodies…when i found out the doctor told me i had impetigo and not ringworm and gave me an antibiotic then i went there again and saw a differ doctor and he told me it wasnt that.. that it was for sure ringworm…i hope its better i know it will leave a bad scar :)

  13. You have writing talent. I would be interested in seeing an up to date photo, although quite honestly I would probably not return here to your site. Anyway, this is my two cents. Chin up :)

  14. You are talented when it comes to writing. I bet you are a funny guy. Thanks for having the guts to post this and the ablility to laugh at the situation. Chin up :)

  15. I came across this while researching my own ringworms. Yes that’s right plural. I have about a dozen of this little itchy red patches all over my arms and legs. I just want to say that your my inspiration and now I don’t feel as embarrassed as I did earlier. Thanks a bunch.

  16. holy crap…i have never seen such a close-up of such a foul infection! Whoa! you poor kid! what a horrible experience….i’m sure you’re all better now, but what am i supposed to do about the nightmares i’m going to have for the next week?

  17. Ah, don’t feel too bad, man. When I was in kindergarten, I got a bad case of ringworm on the backside of my head. Something to do with a cat, said cat’s nails, a bathtub and a 5-year-old who didn’t know that cats came with a lifetime (although I think it only counts for the first life…) supply of self-bathing. Anyways, due to prolonged procrastination, I now have a noticeable (little bigger than a quarter), circular scar on the back of my head that always seems to be the topic of discussion for everyone within 30ft anytime I get a haircut. I submit they should change the name of “ringworm” to something that doesn’t cause more complication than necessary when I have to explain that there is not, nor has there ever been, a worm of any kind in/on the back of my skull….

    And I can’t wait to get my hair cut in basic this fall…

  18. The observer

    Ok firstly poor you! ive never seen such a bad case of ring worm! you should consider yourself a hero… however how can people not notice it? would you rather that everyone never noticed you and never cared about that huge thing on your face instead of asking what it is? im sure that there are HEAPS of people out there with some sort of problem that everyone asks about but they don’t get offended. Im a diabetic and heps of people stare at me with ugly faces when im giving myself insulin, something that i have to do to survive and they also ask me about it but i don’t mind. Next time just think of it in this way, If i tell them what it is they wont ask some poor other bloke.

  19. OMFG!!! I too came across this while looking up ringworm for something on my foot and now the palm of my hand. I feel so horrible for what you went through! I was wondering if you got a scar from the ringworm because that looks pretty bad. I would love to a update of what your chin looks like now!

  20. Since I, Harrison Mooney, have appointed myself THE KNOWER, fielding all queries in Kevan’s absence, I will field this one also. Lisa, Kevan’s face has healed up perfectly. Nowadays, Kevan’s chin looks like a human chin should, complete with stubble, a delightful dimple, and a complete dearth of facial ringworm infections. There is no evidence that Kevan ever looked like Aaron Eckhart in The Dark Knight, save the photo above.

  21. I too, like most of the people on here, stumbled across this while researching my own ringworm infection. Mine is on the inside of my left forearm. I contracted it a couple of weeks ago while staying at a friend’s house. They had just received three cats from my friend’s mom….. whoops, got ringworm. I initially thought it was a burn from a floating ember from my tobacco pipe, but lo and behold, it spread in a perfect ring and voila, treatment began. It’s now about the size of a quarter and burns like a banshee, but I think the Tough-Actin’ Tinactin will help out……

  22. Great product to treat “ringworm” or any fungal type infection also great for athlete’s feet is “Tea Tree Oil” small 1oz bottles can be found at your local wallgreens/drug store for about $10. a 5% concentration is effective against fungus, lice, scabies etc. but if you really want to attack the problem quickly I suggest a 50/50 concentration of tea tree oil and lotion. a thorough mixing is required to get the oil incorporated into the lotion. this oil is also good for the skin and hair and even acts as a natural sexual physical stimulant, like those found in intimate oil rubs, however dilute to a very low concentration as it can burn cold if to strong an amount is used. Good luck and Good riddens “Tea Tree Oil” your friend

  23. um can you show your whole face becuse i want to see were it is on your face

  24. Wow. This is the type of medical anomoly that really makes me interested in skin infections. Although, I don’t know why you didn’t just go to the doctor in the first place and get treatment. Alas, the scar looks wonderful in comparison to the festering fungal infection. And I now feel itchy all over after reading this. Congratulations on the healing and applause for your wonderful writing style.

  25. Alas, I’m researching ring worm because my son Justin has it. Was down one arm, and now the other. I was extremely worried when I saw the blisters on the second arm, didn’t occur the first time. But, I’m less concerned after seeing your picture. We don’t know how Justin got it, but we do have a cat. No one else in the house has it, Justin’s first break out was a week ago. I’m glad you prevailed and am also impressed with your writing and your life size ad for creative consulting services. Sounds like you are in the right business, your passion shines through!

  26. Thought I’d send an update for anyone researching ring worm, which seems to be how we all end up here. Justin’s second arm continued to get worse, and the medicine (Lamisil) that took care of the first arm, did nothing for the second. We found out on his second arm he contracted a bacterial infection with the ring worm. He was prescribed some antibiotics and a cream and in 3 days it was GONE ! Don’t give it more than a few days, see a doctor !

  27. Came across this while looking for something on cat worms. What a write up.
    Glad to see that this subsided and glad you and your wife are doing well in BC (nice place).

    What were some of your symptoms: (like was it itchy then scabby or what?)
    It looks awful and how long did it take to clear up?
    Just wondering for future knowledge (Had no idea it could affect humans) WOAH.
    Glad you are okay.
    Cheers from Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

  28. As SEVERAL other people already have, I came across your page researching my own problem, I have a perfect circle on my left foot and a heart shaped one closer to my ankle (ironic huh!). I’ve been putting lamisil on it for about 5 days, it’s clearing up alright thank goodness! Mine really wasn’t itchy or flaky or any of the other signs people had =S Guess I’m lucky! I’m pretty sure I cantracted it from on of my bf’s dogs….ugh. Gross! I have to wash clothes everyday almost just because of socks! I run out cause you have to change them frequently apparently….anyway, it sucks, and i’m glad you’re okay! =)

  29. I know how you feel. I have ringworm on my head- a big patch but i went to school anyway. So i got to my class and my ‘friend’ says: “Hey what’s that on your head? It looks absoloutely horrific!” So i said it was ringworm and she went MENTAL. “Ew! I’m not sitting next to you! Get away from me!” Bitchy or what?
    I’ll say one thing about ringworm- it shows who your true friends are. Luckily my other friends were more understanding. Mostly ‘cos i didn’t tell them what it was. “Um yeah, I… burnt my head with my hairstraightners. Silly me, haha!”

  30. I came across your site while researching ringworm for a client within a residential setting. As a healthcare provider, I thought that I had seen all types of ringworm, but the infection you dealt with is beyond what I have encountered with this pesky fungus. One of my clients has a similar issue currently and the treatment ordered is not jiving with his presentation. Thanks for posting your story.

  31. I have wrestled for 13 years now and I have had it all…ringworm, impentigo (spl? but it is nasty) and everything else. I can also say with confidence that it that truly was ringworm it was there a long time to get that bad. Ringworm is a perfect ring with normal skin in the middle. The ring progressively gets bigger. Doctors call it ringworm when they dont know what it is, except that it is a fungus.

    To everyone who has had it dont do alcohol you can get over the counter meds. Athlete’s foot is also a fungus so medicine for that will work for ringworm

  32. I had ringworm when I was 11 years old, and contracted it from my dog.
    It was a big rash right in the middle of my forehead… it didn’t get infected, thankfully, and healed after roughly two weeks.

    I just contracted it again, and was doing a web search on it since it’s been a few years… and found your site.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you, for putting things in perspective for me.
    And I’m glad that it healed, and that you were able to take your feelings and write this amazing entry about it.

  33. wow i didn’t know that people could get ring worm! then one day while getting dressed i noticed a small red patch on my side. RINGWORM!!!! UGH! I feel so gross! i looked up creams and found that the stongest thing to use is miconazole.

    I honestly don’t know where i got it from! my room mate has two dogs and two cats and i have a cat of my own. i suspect the dog because she is having some major skin problems!

    anywho… i really do love your style of writing. you are very talented!

    well im going to go feel gross now…

  34. dude. that sucks.
    I have ringworm on my vag.
    and my finger.
    new cat.
    it sucks really.
    what happends if u cut it open?
    I know there isn’t a worm, but what’s there?

  35. I have a ringworm on my right knee. I looked it up and it says it’s usually in exposed areas. The only time my knee is exposed is when I’m at work, only four nights a week. I’ve had one on my left arm that stayed there for nearly six weeks because I was in boarding school and no one would get me medicine for it.

  36. Joshua Allen

    After viewing the disgusting photo, you caused my mom to go vomit in the bathroom!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  37. hey im eric morris and i had ring worm maybe a month ago mine never got infected but im a (16 year old wrestler)
    and im pretty energetic but you more likely to get ring worm from things like cats or dogs then other people but you can also think of the skin to mat contackt that wrestlers fighters and alot of sports have.
    ringworm= gross and i never want it again am glad yours healed. (mine scared 2 a little)

  38. That looks really bad. I am having a case on my chest, and it is killing me! It burns and itches… any idea how to get rid of it? Please let me know.

    p.s. you are indeed a fabulous writer. I’m glad to see someone who has as good of a sense of humor as i do about it. I pretend mine is a real worm named Ronald… yeah… I’m silly. :)

  39. hello after reading all of your stories on line about your cases of having ringworm its very clear to me that is an epidemic happening in our society right know what happen is that someone very close to me just past away and what he did for someone that had this fungus was remarkable now i do have the cure for this fungus once and for all the treatment is not painful what so ever so i need candidate for this treatment so if you know of anyone with this please e-mail me so i can help them thank you

  40. i came across your site today searching for cases of ringworm. i work at a school, and my first year here, i contracted it on my arm from a 5 year who had it. shit sucked. your writting on it made me crack up.

    and screw all those assholes that still ask about it.. tell them their mom gave you herpes of the chin.

  41. maria flores

    my kid have a ringworm and is like your but I need help i don’t now what to do am scare he have la two weeks with i need to now if you can helpe me what to do.

  42. Good for you having courage to share,

    I also contracted ringworm, and had a reoccurence 1 month later then 2 months later…..before, I managed to get some excellent guidance on the situation.

    Treated with clotrimazole, (standard broad spctrum antiful cream). Shower with teatree wash, and then after first rinse, use econazole nitrate 1% w/w (under the trade name Pevaryl foaming solution) comes in sachets, to be used for 3 days, then repeated at 1 month and 3 months. (the pevaryl comes with instructions)

    For soft furnishing, car interior, mats, carpets, rugs, sprayed with a broad spectrum anitfungal, can be bought at the supermarket, brand name canestan, used for sanation of clothes. Then steam cleaned.

    Then all hard surfaces were done in bleach repeatedly and phenyle cleanser, one after the other, to get rid of any spores…..

    What a drag……………. Thats life!!!

  43. hey how do you get rid of ringworm i have i minor case or well i think it is…
    it is on my bicep close to my arm pit lol but really ho to get rid of??? help me

  44. WOW!!!!! this is a really bad case of RINGWORM….. i hope that it heals back to your normal skin…..well this is the NASTIEST case of RINGWORM that i have ever seen(in my life)

  45. well you have to get a medication of the doctors… help your ringworm go away…..we learned about this……i also did alot of reasearch on ringworm…and this was the best picture that i got to put on my page^^^^^^…….you have to go to the doctors(and remember its NOT a ringworm. its a type of FUNGUS)

  46. if the ringworm is kind of small you can cure it….but if the ringworm is big like the picture at the very top you have to take alot of medications….you can use some type of cream to help it GO AWAY

  47. well i am HAPPY that your ringworm is gone. after 3 years for it to take off(thats a long time)

  48. its a secret shhhh

    well i have a question all you ppl are talking about how bad it hurts i have a ringworm on my wrist its small and not oozy like yours but the doctor said its a ringworm i still cant figure out how i got it couse i dont have a cat (my dads allergic) and iv never even somwhat done any wrestling but dous anybody now how long it takes to get rid of cous i got this cream stuff yesterday and it says it can take fore weaks and i realy dont want to wait that long

Leave a comment