Ringworm is a common fungal infection that is highly contagious which is found on the skin and scalp. This infection is seen in every living organisms including humans, plants, and animals. This infection causes red, rough and itchy patches on the skin surfaces, which later spread to other body parts. These patches begin to ooze and develop into blisters. Ringworm has also been known to affect the scalp, groin, feet, beard and other areas of the skin. As the name suggests, ringworm is not caused by parasitic worms as they are caused by fungus species. These fungi grow well in the moist environment such as showers, bathroom floors and walls, swimming pools and also in between the skin folds. The vectors for such fungi include pets ( for instance cats and dogs). Hence, it would be better to keep them away from such surroundings. There are multiple forms of ringworm fungi, which affect different body parts. Ringworm is also known by names like Dermatophytosis or Tinea.
Causes of Ringworm
There are three different types of fungi, which cause this infection:
These fungi are mainly present in the spores of soil. Animals and humans are the ones that get infected by these fungi when exposed to this soil. This is a contagious infection which spreads from animals and an infected person to others.
Types of Ringworm
Ringworm is classified based on the part of the body it affects.
- Tinea capitis: This fungal infection affects the scalp. It is also known by the name scalp ringworm.
- Tinea corporis: This fungal infection might occur in any part of the body. Thus it is known as body ringworm.
- Tinea cruris: This fungal infection affects the skin around the inner thighs, buttocks, and groin. It is also known as Jock itch.
- Tinea pedis: This fungal infection affects both the foot in between the fingernails and toenails. It is also known as Athlete’s foot.
Symptoms of Ringworm
The symptoms vary depending upon the site of infection. Here are the general symptoms of ringworm:
- Red, scaly, itchy, with raised patches.
- Patches that develop blisters or begin to ooze.
- Redder patches which resemble a ring-like structure.
- Pus-filled raised blisters
- Athlete’s foot.
- Infection in areas like groin, inner thighs, beard, hands, scalp and in between the fingernails and toenails.
Diagnosis of Ringworm
Identifying ringworm infection is very easy, depending on the location and appearance. Below are certain diagnostic procedures done by doctors to detect ringworms.
- Examining the affected area under black light since the fungus would glow under black light and could be located easily.
- KOH exam- The scrapings of the infected skin is collected and mixed with the prepared potassium hydroxide (KOH) solution. The KOH tests detect the fungi by removing the unaffected cells and leaving the fungal cells aside. The test results are checked under the microscope to detect ringworms.
- Skin biopsy – A small section of a skin tissue is removed and examined here under the microscope to detect fungi.
- Fungal culture: This is the best method to detect ringworm.
Treatment of Ringworm
A variety of products for ringworm treatment are available in the market including the application of the antifungal cream, lotion, and powder to treat the same. If given the proper care, the spreading of these infections could be prevented and cured. The precautions include:
- Maintaining cleanliness and hygiene.
- Washing hands with sanitizers.
- Wearing clean ironed clothes.
- Avoid using communal pools.
- Wearing loose-fitting cotton clothes to avoid the accumulation of sweat and fungi.
- The skin folds have to be kept clean regularly to avoid the accumulation of sweat and dirt for a long time.
- Having shower twice a day is also recommended.
- Also not touching the itchy red patches would help to a great extent.
- The best antifungal creams used for this infection are miconazole or terbinafine, which should be applied twice in a day on infected region until the symptoms withdraw.
- There are many home remedies to prevent or to control the infections. The home remedies include-Use of talcum powder to control sweating and using the face wash, shower gel, soap and similar products of neem. Neem is an antimicrobial and antifungal agent as it helps in protecting the skin.
Ringworm is not a serious disease but it is the sign of poor hygiene and a precursor to many other major diseases and infections.
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