Information on ringworm symptoms.
Select a Topic
- What is Ringworm?
- What Causes Ringworm?
- Diagnosing Ringworm
- Help for Ringworm
- More Information on Ringworm
What is Ringworm?
Ringworm refers to a common fungal infection that affects the skin, nails and scalp. Although the name may be misleading, it is not a worm at all. One of the distinguishing features of ringworms is patches of red rings which appear on the skin. These rings look like bumpy, scaly borders with white centers which may look like blisters. The centers usually heal over time and become hard and crusty, but the outer edges become inflamed and spread outwards.
There are different types of ringworm which include body ringworm, scalp ringworm, ringworm of the groin and nails:
Body ringworm (tinea corporis) causes flaky sores that can be dry and scaly or moist or crusty. It affects any part of the body except the scalp, beard area and the feet.
Scalp ringworm (tinea capitis) also known as tinea capitis causes scaly, swollen blisters or resembles a rash that looks like black dots. This type of ringworm may become inflamed and filled with pus. Sometimes flaky, round bald patches may develop. Scarring and permanent hair loss may also occur. Scalp ringworm tends to affect children more often.
Ringworm of the groin (tinea cruris) also referred to as tinea cruris or jock itch may spread to the inner thighs, external genitalia and buttocks. It is characterized by raised red sores with well-defined edges.
Ringworm of the nails (tinea unguium) also known as tinea unguium is not as common as the other types of ringworm. This type of ringworm develops at the tip of the toenail, gradually becoming thicker and discolored. Eventually, it may begin to die off and pull away from the nail bed.
Ringworm of the feet (tinea pedis) also known as tinea pedis or athlete’s foot looks like a rash of scaly, red patches which are usually found between a person’s toes. The skin usually becomes scaly, peels or cracks between the toes or on the sole or heel of the foot. In severe cases, the toenails may become infected, thicken, crumble and even fall out. Blisters between the toes, on the heel or on the sole of the foot may also occur.
What Causes Ringworm?
Ringworm is caused by the fungus that is spread through direct contact with an infected person or animal. It may also be spread when an infected person touches someone who does not have ringworm, thereby transferring the fungus.
This fungus is often transferred indirectly when an infected person has contact with personal items or objects such as towels, hairbrushes, hats and a second person handles them. Conditions such as heat, moisture and dirty, crowded living conditions increase the risk of fungi spreading.
Ringworm can be diagnosed easily from its appearance and location. Your doctor may scrape off a small sample of the flaky skin for microscopic examination and culture to test for fungus.
Help for Ringworm
Treatment of ringworm involves antifungal topical and oral medication. Usually a topical cream or ointment such as Mycelex and Lotrimin can treat skin infections, although they do tend to take a bit longer to take effect. Oral medications such as Lamisil or Diflucan used to treat ringworm require a prescription and carry some negative side effects which include headache, dizziness, nausea or diarrhea.
More Information on Ringworm
Tips on how to prevent ringworm
- Educate yourself as well as the rest of your family about the risks of ringworm from infected persons or pets
- Avoid contact with people or animals that have been infected by ringworm
- Practice good personal hygiene by washing hands before eating, after you have used the bathroom or played with pets
- Dry yourself completely after a shower or bath
- Keep your living and working environment as clean as possible
- Do not share clothing, hats, towels, hairbrushes or other personal items
- Wear flip-flops on your feet in public areas such as the locker room shower or pool area
- Keep your feet and groin area dry and clean, and change socks and underwear once a day
- Avoid tight underwear, pants or pantyhose and wear loose –fitting cotton clothing
- Apply talcum to the affected area daily to prevent ringworm