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A fungal infection of the skin, ringworm is also known as dermatophytosis, dermatophyte infection, or tinea. The term “ringworm” is misleading since the infection is caused by a fungus, not a worm. The illness causes a worm-like lesion in the shape of a ring, which is how it received its name.
Tinea corporis (body ringworm) and tinea capitis are the two most common types of ringworm (ringworm of the scalp). Tinea infection in other areas, such as tinea cruris, is sometimes referred to as tinea (ringworm of the groin).
Humans and animals are both susceptible to ringworm infestation. On afflicted locations, the infection first manifests as discolored, scaly patches. On lighter skin, these patches are often red, but on darker skin, they are brown-gray.
What exactly is a “ringworm”?
Ringworm is a fungal infection of the skin’s top layer. It usually manifests as a scaly, dry, swollen, or itchy red or silver rash. The lesion caused by this illness resembles a worm in the shape of a ring, which is how it got its name. As the rings progress, they normally extend outwards, while the core may heal and return to its original hue. It can affect the scalp (tinea capitis), groin (jock itch), or foot (athlete’s foot). Patchy hair loss can result from ringworm on the face or scalp.
Ringworm is spread by intimate contact with contaminated materials such as bedsheets, combs, or towels, an infected person, animals, or – in rare circumstances – infected soil. It can also spread from one portion of your body to another. Children are particularly susceptible to the sickness, which also affects pet owners. Ringworms may be caught by animals and transmitted to people through contact.
If your skin gets soft and wet from extended water contact, or if you have small cuts or abrasions, the fungi that cause ringworm can easily reach the top layer of your skin. Fungi flourish in damp, humid conditions, so you’re more at danger if you frequent public showers or swimming pools. You can also contract it if you share hairbrushes or clothing with someone who is afflicted.
Ringworm infection symptoms
The appearance of ringworm varies depending on whatever area of the body is afflicted. Ringworm is given several names by doctors based on where it occurs on the body.
Body: Tinea corporis, or body ringworm, is the most prevalent use of the term “ringworm.” Patches with the distinctive circular ring shape emerge on your chest or limbs often.
Scalp: Tinea capitis, or ringworm of the scalp, begins as isolated scaling on the scalp and progresses to itchy, scaly bald areas. It is especially prevalent in children. Hair around the afflicted region may break or fall out, resulting in bald patches.
Beard: Tinea barbae, or ringworm of the beard, affects the cheeks, chin, and upper neck, causing bald patches. This might resemble acne, folliculitis, or another skin problem. Fatigue and enlarged lymph nodes affect certain persons.
Hands: Tinea manuum, or ringworm of the hand, is spread by touching another infected location, such as your groin or foot. A hand infection may appear as extremely dry skin with large fractures in the palm. Ring-shaped areas on the back of your hand may appear if the illness progresses.
Groin: Tinea cruris, often known as jock itch, is a ringworm infection that affects the skin around the groin, inner thighs, and buttocks. Men and adolescent boys are the most affected. This generally begins as an itchy red, brown, or gray rash on the junction of your leg and torso. Itching may become more intense after activity and may not alleviate with anti-itch cream.
Feet: Athlete’s foot, also known as tinea pedis, is a ringworm infection of the foot. People who go barefoot in public settings where the virus might spread, such as locker rooms, showers, and swimming pools, are usually affected. This begins as dry, scaly skin between your toes, spreading to your sole and heel.
How to treat ringworms (home remedy)
Ringworm cannot be cured with home treatments. It is vital to use antifungal drugs to treat ringworm. Ringworm can be treated externally (with topical therapies) or internally (with oral drugs, for example):
Topical treatments: When fungus infects the skin of the body or the groin, numerous antifungal lotions can cure the problem in two weeks or less. Clotrimazole (Cruex cream, Desenex cream, Lotrimin cream, lotion, and solution), miconazole (Monistat-Derm cream), ketoconazole (Nizoral cream), econazole (Spectazole), naftifine (Naftin), and terbinafine (Terbinafine) are examples of similar medications (Lamisil cream and solution). Many instances of foot fungus respond favorably to these treatments. Antifungal creams are widely accessible as over-the-counter medications. Topical treatments must normally be used for at least two weeks.
Systemic treatment: Some fungal infections are resistant to external treatment. Scalp fungus and nail fungus are two examples. Oral treatments can be utilized to enter these regions and for disorders that are extremely severe or pervasive.
For a long time, griseofulvin was the sole effective antifungal pill (Fulvicin, Grifulvin, and Gris-PEG). Other agents that are both safer and more effective are now accessible. Terbinafine, itraconazole (Sporanox), and fluconazole are among them (Diflucan). Oral medicines are often prescribed for three months.
How to prevent ringworms
According to conventional thinking, reducing perspiration and moisture can help avoid fungal infections. Men should wear loose-fitting boxer shorts, while women should avoid wearing pantyhose, among other ringworm prevention tips. It’s debatable whether these steps, some of which are rather tough to execute, are truly worth the effort.
You can also take precautions to prevent ringworm infections from spreading. Clothing, towels, hairbrushes, combs, hair accessories, sports equipment, and other personal-care products should not be shared. In gyms, locker rooms, and pools, wearing sandals or shoes might help minimize your risk of acquiring an athlete’s foot. Make sure your youngster wears shoes in the locker room and around the pool. You should avoid handling pets with ringworm symptoms (typically bald spots). Hands should be washed after petting pets, and children should be reminded to do so.
If your pet has ringworm, handle him or her with gloves and long sleeves, and vacuum often in places where your pet spends time. Disinfect surfaces and bedding using a solution of diluted chlorine bleach, benzalkonium chloride, or strong detergents to destroy fungus spores. Your pet can be treated by a veterinarian to get rid of the infection.