All about ringworms
RINGWORM infection is caused by a fungus. Fungi that cause ringworm live and spread on the outer layer of the skin. Ringworm is not caused by a worm or other parasite.
Fungi are present everywhere in our environment, including on the human body. They thrive in warm, moist areas such as locker rooms and swimming pools and in skin folds. You can get ringworm of the skin by sharing contaminated towels, clothing and sports equipment as well as direct contact with an infected person.
Ringworm of the skin (tinea corporis) is most commonly caused by the fungus Trichophyton rubrum, which spreads from one person to another. It can also be caused by Microsporum canis, which is spread by cats and dogs. This type is less common but causes a more severe infection.
People often get ringworm of the groin by accidentally spreading athlete’s foot fungus to their own groin area. People who have athlete’s foot also commonly spread it to their hands (tinea manuum).
Some people are more likely to get fungal infections than others. The tendency to get fungal skin infections or to have them return after treatment seems to run in families.
Most ringworm infections cause a rash that may be peeling, cracking, scaling, itching, and red. Sometimes the rash forms blisters, especially on the feet.
Symptoms of ringworm of the body include a rash on the chest, stomach, arms, legs, face or back with edges that are red and scaly or moist and crusted. The rash also may have small bumps that look like blisters. The centre of the rash may be clear, giving it a ringshaped appearance, or there may be a cluster of red bumps.
The rash may appear on the groin, skin folds, inner thighs or buttocks. It usually does not occur on the scrotum or penis. On the palm, ringworm may be mistaken for eczema. The palm is thickened, dry, and scaly, similar to athlete’s foot while skin between the fingers may be moist and have open sores. Fingernails can also be infected. Ringworm of the skin may be confused with other conditions with similar symptoms such as eczema or psoriasis.
It can start as a small patch of itchy, red or scaling skin. The rash can spread and cover a large area.
Clothing that rubs the skin can irritate the rash. Sweat, heat or moisture in the air (humidity) can make the itching and infection worse.
As the infection becomes worse, the ring-shaped pattern and red-brown colour may become more visible. If not treated, the skin can become irritated and painful. Skin blisters and cracks can become infected with bacteria and require antibiotics.
After treatment, the rash will go away. But ringworm can return unless you follow steps to prevent it.
Your risk of getting ringworm is higher if you come into contact with a person who has a fungal infection or with a carrier, a person who has the fungi but does not have symptoms.
You are also at risk if you are susceptible to fungal infections or have had a previous fungal infection, you have an impaired immune system due to a disease such as diabetes or cancer, you live in a warm, damp climate or you wear tight-fitting clothes or you let your skin stay damp for long periods, such as by staying in a wet bathing suit or sweaty workout clothes.
If you suspect you have ringworm of the skin, call your doctor if you have patches of skin that are itchy, red, or scaly with bumps that look like blisters, and they have not improved after two weeks of treatment with a non-prescription antifungal product.
Signs of bacterial infection develop including increased pain, swelling, redness, tenderness, or heat, red streaks extending from the area and discharge of pus.
Watchful waiting is a wait-and-see approach. If you get better on your own, you won’t need treatment. If you get worse, you and your doctor will decide what to do next.
Any persistent, severe, or recurring infection should be checked by your doctor.
Most cases of ringworm of the skin, including jock itch and ringworm of the hand, can be treated with creams or ointments that you apply on your skin to kill fungi. These are called topical antifungals. You can get many topical anti-fungals without a prescription.
You may need to take antifungal pills (oral treatment) if the ringworm does not go away after you have tried different topical antifungals or if the infection is widespread. Oral treatments include azoles such as fluconazole (Diflucan), allylamines such as terbinafine (Lamisil), and griseofulvin (Grifulvin V).
Your rash may start to clear up soon after you begin treatment, but it is important to use the medicine exactly as the label or your doctor says. This will help keep the infection from coming back. You will probably need to continue treatment for two to four weeks.
You should treat a fungal infection right away. Severe and widespread infections can be hard to treat.
Keep your skin clean and dry. Change your socks and underwear at least once a day.
Wear loose-fitting cotton clothing. Avoid tight underwear, pants, and panty hose.
Always dry yourself completely after showers or baths. After drying your skin with a towel, allow your skin to air-dry before putting your clothes on. You can also use a hair dryer, set on a cool setting, to dry your skin.
Do not share clothing, sports equipment, towels, or sheets. If you think you have been exposed to ringworm, wash your clothes in hot water with funguskilling (fungicidal) soap.
Wear slippers or sandals in locker rooms, showers, and public bathing areas.
Shower and shampoo thoroughly after any sport that requires skin-to-skin contact.
If you have athlete’s foot, put your socks on before your underwear so that fungi do not spread from your feet to your groin. Also, when towelling off after a shower or bath, dry your feet last.
Take your pet to a veterinarian if it has patches of missing hair, which may be a sign of a fungal infection. Household pets can spread fungi that cause ringworm in people. — webmed.com