Ringworm: Symptoms, Causes and Treatment
What is Ringworm?
Ringworm is a common fungal infection. It is not caused by worms. It is a skin infection that is caused by mold-like fungi that live on the dead tissue of skin, hair, and nails. It is also called (tinea or dermatophytosis). This condition is called ringworm because it tends to cause an itch, red, circular, or ring-shaped rash. Ringworm can affect almost any area of the body, it favors places that are warm, dark, and moist, such as skin in the groin area, the spaces between the toes, and the deep skin folds of obese people.
7 Facts About Ringworm
1.A ringworm is not a worm. The name ‘Ringworm’ is deceiving because it implies there is a worm under the skin. But this isn’t the truth. Ringworm got its name because of the round, circular appearance of the rash.
2.Your pets can carry and spread ringworm. So if you notice something out of place with your pet’s fur or skin, don’t hesitate to take them to the vet. Be sure to protect yourself by wearing long sleeves and pants and make sure to clean your hands after handling them.
3.Ringworm on the scalp may be hard to notice at first. The first signs may be the appearance of itchy, scaly, bald patches on your head and hair loss from the area.
4.There are more than 40 different species of fungi that can be responsible for the rash. This means that virtually, anybody can be affected.
5.Children are most likely to get infected with ringworm, however, this skin infection can happen to anyone at any age.
6.Antibiotics work on bacteria. Since ringworm is caused by a fungus, they are unlikely to treat this skin condition. To treat ringworm, you will need to use anti-fungal medicines and ointments.
7.If left unmedicated, ringworm can last for up to several months or years before it clears up
Ringworm is contagious and can be passed through direct contact from person to person.
Symptoms of Ringworm
Ringworm symptoms can vary depending on the affected region of the body, which spans from your head to the toes.
1.Ringworm of the face (Tinea Faciei)
Ringworm on the face can take on the classic ring-shaped rash, but not always. Instead, you may just notice raised, red, scaly patches that itch.
2. Ringworm of the scalp (Tinea Capitis)
On the scalp, you won’t likely notice a ring, Instead, you will have flaky, itchy patches. These patches can be red, silvery gray, or crusty yellow. Your hair can get brittle, and break or fall out easily.
3. Ringworm in the beard area (Tinea Barbae)
For men, ringworms can also appear in the beard area. Ringworm in the beard area causes crusty, flakey areas of skin. Ringworm here often forms bumps and blisters that can be confused with acne or folliculitis.
4. Ringworm of the hands (Tinea Manus)
Ringworm can also appear on hands. If it appears on the back of the hands, you will likely get the classic itchy, ring-shaped rash on the palms and between the fingers. You may also notice the thickening of the skin.
5. Ringworm of the feet (Tinea Pedis)
Ringworm of the feet ”Athlete’s Foot” is caused by the same group of fungi that cause ringworm. Instead of the ring-shaped rash, you will get dry, peeling, itchy skin, especially between the toes. Your feet might burn or sting.
6. Ringworm in the Groin Area (Tinea Cruris)
It causes a red to brown rash in the creases of the skin around the groin. It can spread to the thighs, buttocks, and stomach. This often itches but not always.
7. Ringworm of the nails (Tinea Unguium)
It is also called onychomycosis. It can happen in both the fingernails and the toenails, but it tends to be more common in the toes.
8. Ringworm of the body
You get the typical, ring-shaped ringworm rash on the trunks, arms, and legs. First, you will find a small scaly area on the skin that itches. As the rash spreads, the rings grow in diameter. The skin inside the ring may be clear and appear normal or have red and flaky patches.
You won’t see ringworm right away when the fungus has infected you. It can take up to 2 weeks before you start noticing symptoms.
Initial Stage. During this stage, you may notice a pink or red irritated patch of skin.
Second Stage. During this stage, you will notice the lesion starts to grow inside. The center of the rash may resemble healthy skin with a surrounding scaly area.
5 Ringworm Complications
1.Diabetes.It’s common to see those who suffer from recurrent fungal infections such as ringworm also suffering from diabetes.
2.Obesity. Being overweight can raise your risk of contracting ringworm, especially if you are constantly sweating or wear tight clothing that restricts ventilation, providing a warm, damp environment in which the fungus will thrive.
3.Vascular Problems. A disease affecting the blood vessels of the body may result in your extremities being susceptible to fungal infection simply because your body cannot get enough blood flow to those areas to fight off infection.
4.Weakened Immune System. This is because your body’s ability to fight off any infection is lower than usual. In these cases, prolonged or higher doses of treatment will be needed.
5.Your Environment. Always make sure to avoid damp, humid, and crowded conditions as ringworm and other fungal infections thrive in these conditions.
Causes of Ringworm
It is a contagious fungal infection. It can be spread in the following ways:
1.Object to Human. Ringworm can spread by contact with objects or surfaces that an affected person or animal has recently touched or rubbed against.
2.Animal to Human. You can contract ringworm by touching an animal with ringworm. It can spread by petting, or grooming cats and dogs. Ringworm is also fairly common in cows.
3.Soil to Humans. Ringworms can be spread to humans by contact with infected soil.
4.Human to Human. Ringworm often spreads by direct, skin-to-skin contact with an infected person.
Anyone can get ringworm, but several factors increase the risk of developing it. Health habits and other behaviors can put you at an increased risk of developing ringworm and other fungal infections. These include:
1.Living in a warm, humid climate or tropical area
2.Wearing tight shoes, underwear, or clothing
3.Have close contact with an infected person or animal
4.Participating in sports with skin-to-skin contacts, such as wrestling or football
5.Minor skin or nail injuries
6.Sharing objects, such as towels, clothing, razors, brushes, and hats with an infected person
7.Using public showers and locker rooms or living in close quarters with others
8.Having damp skin for extended periods of time- for instance, not showering and drying off completely after sweating a lot
How to Reduce Your Risk of Ringworm?
1.Keep your skin dry and clean
2.Wash your hands with soap after playing with pets
3.Change your socks and underwear at least once a day
4.Using shower shoes, flip flops, or other foot protection in public showers and places
5.Clip your fingernails and toenails short and keep them clean
6.Wearing loose-fitting clothing and shoes that allow air circulation
7.Ensure your shower, wash or bathe regularly and clean skin with soap and warm water
8.Showering immediately after sports or activities with skin-to-skin contact and cleaning your gear
Diagnosis of Ringworm
A physical examination of the site of infection is often sufficient to diagnose ringworm. In some cases, microscopic examination is needed to confirm the diagnosis. In this process, a portion of the infected skin is stained with potassium hydroxide and analyzed under the microscope. If the microscopic analysis is unsatisfactory, fungal culture can also be performed to diagnose ringworm.
Treatment of Ringworm
It’s best to treat ringworm as soon as possible because the infection might cause complications. The treatment for ringworm depends on its location on the body and how serious the infection is.
For most cases of ringworm affecting the skin, the first line of defense is a nonprescription antifungal medicine. These come as creams, powders, ointments, and sprays.
Antifungal medications for treating ringworm on the skin include:
Lotrimin cream, Cruex spray powder, Mycelex
Ringworm of the scalp or nails requires prescription-strength oral medications such as Griseofulvin ( Gris- PEG)
2. Natural Remedies
Many people have used home remedies for ringworm for many years before researchers invented antifungal treatments. For the moment, the best way to treat most types of ringworm is with medication. Support for use of these remedies is mostly anecdotal. There is no scientific data to support their use of OTC antifungals.Coconut Oil. People apply coconut oil to their skin to reduce the incidence of ringworm infections. If you want to try this remedy, apply coconut oil one to three times a day.
Garlic Extract. Ajoene, which is a natural compound extracted from garlic, shows promise in the treatment of ringworm.
Apple Cider Vinegar. Some people apply apple cider vinegar-soaked cotton balls over affected areas of the skin three times a day to treat ringworm.
Turmeric. It is a spice you can mix with water to make an antifungal paste. Apply the paste directly to your skin and allow it to dry.
Tea Tree Oil. Tea tree oil which is widely used in aromatherapy may help cure ringworm affecting the feet.