What is Ringworm?

Ringworm or Dermatophytosis is a very common skin disease caused by several different fungal infections collectively known as tinea. The term ringworm originates from the early belief that the disease was caused by a parasitic worm which is untrue. The lifetime risk of an individual to develop this superficial fungal disease is between 20 to 30%.

Ringworm Symptoms

  • The infection causes flaking, ring-shaped, itchy red patches that develop on various parts that could erupt and ooze. The patches often have sharply-defined borders growing to nearly one inch crossways. They are frequently redder around the outside with clear tone in the middle. This forms the manifestation of a ring wherein the infection remains active.
  • There are hairless patches and scales on the scalp, and scratchy, scaling irritation under a beard.
  • Nails thicken, become discolored, crusty and rough and could even crumble.
  • There is dry scaling and fissuring of the skin between the toes.
  • The groin is a usual area of infection. Usually on the inner area of the upper thigh, scaly, red-brown patches develop.

Ringworm Causes

Naturally, bacteria and fungi live on our bodies. A number of these microorganisms are helpful while others are opportunistic, multiply in haste to form contagious diseases. When a specific fungus thrives and multiplies anywhere, ringworm arises. The mode of transmission is via direct skin-to-skin contact, and contact with inanimate, personal objects. Exposure to infected animals is one mode of transmission. In very uncommon cases, infection can be attributed to exposure to infected soil. If the soil does have ample nutrients, the fungus that causes ringworm in humans can survive for an extended period of time. Still, for a person to become infected in this mode, the individual would have to have prolonged contact with harshly contaminated soil or else the odds are thin.

Ringworm Treatment

Individuals with ringworm respond well to self-care treatment. They are advised to keep their affected skin as clean and dry as possible. If it starts to erupt, apply damp compress to clear out the area. Use OTC antifungal powders, creams and lotions especially those containing ketoconazole, clotrimazole, terbinafine and miconazole. These are generally used once or twice a day. Infection begins to disappear within a week. With continued application for the recommended amount of time will guarantee the total eradication of the fungal infection.

When there is a severe or persistent infection and OTC treatments fail, it may require treatment by a physician. Antifungal oral agents may be given.

If there is ring worm on the groin, the individual should wear cotton underwear and change it more than once per day. If there is athlete’s foot, change the socks frequently to keep the feet dry.



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