Ringworm

Published: February 5, 2012

a a a

Overview

Ringworm is a fungal skin infection that can affect any part of the body including the scalp, groin, and feet. Rashes form in the shape of raised and red patches that may itch, form blisters, and ooze pus. These patches have defined edges and can appear to form the shape of a ring. The skin might also become darker or lighter in the affected areas. Ringworm can also affect the fingernails, causing them to become discolored and fall off.

The fungal infection affects both humans and animals. In many situations, people catch ringworm from their pets.

The fungi eat keratin, a substance located in the outer layer of skin, hair, and nails. Warm and wet environments cause the fungus to remain healthy and proliferate.

For most people, ringworm clears after several weeks of self-care and over-the-counter treatment. It is also possible to prevent the spread and proliferation of fungi.

Types

There are many different types of ringworm. The condition may be classified based on the affected body parts and rash shape. Here are several types of ringworm infections:

  • Tinea barbae is a type of ringworm that affects the face and beck in areas where beards grow. Itching and crusting are common affects of this type of ring worm, and in many situations, facial hair falls off.
  • Tinea capitis is a type of ringworm that affects the scalp, most commonly with children. An outbreak of this type of ringworm can be highly contagious, especially in schools.
  • Tinea Curtis occurs in the groin area and has a brown tint. Yeast infections, psoriasis, and rashes that result from chafing may mimic this condition.
  • Tinea faciei causes rashes all over the face, except for bearded areas.
  • Tinea manus is ringworm of the hands, especially the palms and areas between the fingers.
  • Tinea pedis is another name for athlete's foot, which causes scaling and swelling in between the shoes. Blisters can form between the toes or on the sole of the foot.
  • Tinea unquium occurs when the fungus grows under the fingernails. The fingernails may turn yellow or black. The nails may become thick and fall off.

Symptoms

Symptoms vary by affected area. Ringworm can occur anywhere on the body including the arm, scalp, face, and foot. The traditional rash is a big red ring with a white spot in the middle. Rashes are itchy, inflamed, and may develop blisters. The skin may become thick or scaly, and pus might ooze. Infected nails may become thick and yellow in color before they fall off. You may start to develop bald spots in the scalp areas.

Causes/Risk Factors

Ringworm can affect people of any age, but the condition occurs commonly among children. It is spread through touch, and it is highly contagious.

Ringworm is caused by a fungus that becomes out of control and multiplies all over the body. The fungi proliferate in areas that are warm and wet. Ringworm can develop in injured areas and areas where you sweat.

Ringworm can spread from animals to humans.

Tests/Diagnosis

For the most part, doctors diagnose ringworm visually. The doctor might use a special blue light (Wood's lamp) to examine the rash. In most situations, the ringworm fungus appears fluorescent in this light. The doctor may scrape your skin in order to examine a sample under a microscope.

Treatment

Most ringworm treatment is over-the-counter. It is recommended that you keep your skin, especially the affected areas dry. Powders, lotions, and creams are all available to alleviate symptoms and to treat the fungus. A doctor may prescribe an antifungal pill if your hair or nails are infected. It is recommended that you wash your clothes and bedding frequently. See a veterinarian about treating your infected pets.

More in Diseases & Conditions
New on SymptomFind
a a a  
RELATED ARTICLES
NEED ANSWERS?