Ringworm Details

Ringworm (Dermatophytosis or Tinea):

Understand The - Symptoms, Causes, Tests & Treatment

Ringworm is a common skin disorder otherwise known as “tinea” or “dermatophytosis.” It is caused by a fungus that can live on skin, surfaces like locker room floors, and household items like towels, bedding, and clothes. The appearance of ringworm varies slightly depending on the area of the body affected. It commonly appears as a raised, scaly rash on the skin surface. The rash generally spreads outwards, forming a circular ring. Parts of the rash may form blisters that ooze infected pus.

It's A highly contagious fungal infection of the skin or scalp. The dermatophyte fungi that cause ringworm can be transmitted to people by skin-to-skin contact with infected animals, soil, or other people. Dermatophyte fungi can also remain on surfaces touched by an infected individual, such as tiled floors, towels, or hairbrushes. The fungus itself remains in the cells of the top layer of skin (stratum corneum) until the infection is treated. Though children are especially susceptible to catching ringworm, it can affect adults as well.

Symptoms vary depending on where you’re infected. With a skin infection, you may experience the following:
  • Red, itchy, scaly, or raised patches
  • Patches that develop blisters or begin to ooze
  • Patches that may be redder on the outside edges or resemble a ring
  • Patches with edges that are defined and raised

If you’re experiencing dermatophytosis in your nails, they may become thicker or discolored, or they may begin to crack. If the scalp is affected, the hair around it may break or fall off, and bald patches may develop.

Ringworm attacks dead tissues in places like the hair, nails, and leftover dandruff. But our bodies’ immune reactions and local bacterial infections enable ringworm to turn healthy, living skin red and itchy.

What Causes Ringworm ?

Ringworm is more common in unsanitary and crowded places.

Three different types of fungi can cause this infection. They are called trichophyton, microsporum, and epidermophyton.

It’s possible that these fungi may live for an extended period as spores in soil. Humans and animals can contract ringworm after direct contact with this soil.

The infection can also spread through contact with infected animals or humans.

The infection is commonly spread among children and by sharing items that may not be clean.

Who is at risk for ringworm?

Anyone can develop ringworm. However, the infection is very common among children and people who own pet cats. Both cats and dogs can catch ringworm and then pass it on to humans who touch them.

You may be more likely to develop dermatophytosis if you come into contact with the fungi while you’re wet or if you have minor skin injuries or abrasions. Using a public shower or public pool areas may also expose you to the infective fungi.

If you’re often barefoot, you may develop ringworm of the feet (athlete’s foot). Those who often share items such as hairbrushes or unwashed clothing also have an increased risk of developing the infection.

Different Types Of Ringworm

Ringworm can go by different names depending on the part of the body affected.

Ringworm of the scalp (tinea capitis) often starts as small sores that develop into itchy, scaly bald patches.

This fungal infection is most common among children. generally affects school-age children and may spread in schools.

It appears as scalp scaling associated with bald spots usually showing broken-off hairs.

Oral antibiotics are needed to penetrate the hair roots and cure the infection after which hair grows back.

How Ringworm is Diagnosed

Your doctor will diagnose ringworm by examining your skin and possibly using a black light to view your skin in the affected area. The fungus will fluoresce (glow) under black light. If you’re infected, the areas of the skin where fungus is located will glow. Your doctor may confirm a suspected diagnosis of ringworm by requesting certain tests:
Skin biopsy or fungal culture

If you’re getting either a skin biopsy or fungal culture, your doctor will take a sample of your skin or discharge from a blister and send it to a lab to test it for the presence of fungus. Doctor may recommend both medications and lifestyle adjustments to treat ringworm.

KOH exam

If you’re getting a KOH exam, your doctor will scrape off a small area of infected skin and place it in potassium hydroxide (KOH). The KOH destroys normal cells and leaves the fungal cells untouched, so they’re easy to see under a microscope.

Treatment Of Ringworm

Fungal diseases like ringworm are more difficult to treat than bacterial infection. That’s because fungus have more complicated cells which are more similar to our own. This makes it difficult to develop antifungal drugs that will kill the fungus, but do no harm to humans.

As a result, long-term topical and oral treatments are necessary, and they may not be 100 percent effective. Even after the infection appears to have disappeared, once ringworm appears once it is more likely to reoccur.

How to Get Rid of Ringworm
Ringworm can be treated topically with antifungal creams containing:
  • Clotrimazole (Cruex, Desenex, Lotrimin),
  • Miconazole (Monistat-Derm),
  • Ketoconazole (Nizoral), and
  • Terbinafine (Lamisil).
In severe or resistant infections on the scalp or nails, oral medications are necessary, such as:
  • Terbinafine,
  • Itraconazole (Sporanox), and
  • Fluconazole (Diflucan).

Who is at risk for ringworm?

  • Ringworm is a very common infection, and anyone can contract it. There are some people who are especially prone to infection, though. Anyone with a compromised immune system is both at a higher risk of being infected by ringworm and will have a harder time fighting off an infection. People who use public locker rooms, showers, swimming pools, and similar communal areas that are hot and humid are also at greater risk.
  • Athletes risk infection because they tend to sweat, and their athletic equipment sometimes traps moisture close to the skin. Athletes who make a lot of skin-to-skin contact, such as wrestlers and MMA fighters, are particularly prone to skin infections like ringworm. People who spend a lot of time with animals—farmers, veterinarians, and dog groomers, for example—are also at greater risk of making contact with the fungi that cause ringworm.
  • Anyone can develop ringworm. However, the infection is very common among children and people who own pet cats. Both cats and dogs can catch ringworm and then pass it on to humans who touch them. Signs to be aware of in pets include:
  • hairless patches of skin that appear circular
  • crusty or scaly patches
  • patches that may not be completely hairless but have brittle or broken hairs
  • opaque or whitish areas around the claws

Preventing ringworm

You can prevent ringworm by practicing healthy and hygienic behaviors. Many infections come from contact with animals and lack of proper hygiene. Tips to avoid ringworm include:

  • Wash your hands after interacting with an animal
  • Disinfect and clean pet living areas
  • Avoid people or animals with ringworm if you have a weakened immune system
  • Shower and shampoo your hair regularly
  • Wear shoes if showering in community areas
  • Avoid sharing personal items like clothing or hairbrushes with people who might have ringworm
  • Keep your feet clean and dry

Ringworm Prevention (Avoid)

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