We often come across the term fungal skin infection; but have you ever tried to probe further and know more about it? If not, then it is time you do so. Because a fungal infection can affect anyone, and everyone must have the basic knowledge about it to get a proper and the right treatment.
What is ringworm?
Formally known as dermatophytosis or tinea, ringworm is a fungal infection of skin. Caused by a fungus, it can affect both humans and animals. It is initially present on affected areas with red patches, and later on spread to other parts of the body, like the skin of the scalp, feet, groin, and beard.
How is ringworm recognized?
Symptoms vary depending on the area affected with ringworm, but, you may experience the following:
- Red, itchy and scaly raised patches.
- Patches that begin to ooze due to blisters.
- Patches that are red with a defined and raised edge that resemble a ring.
- Nails affected by ringworm become thicker or discoloured and may begin to crack.
Types of ringworm
Ringworm can be categorized depending on the body part they affect:
- Tinea Capitis. Ringworm of the scalp, it starts as small sores that grow into itchy and scaly bald patches.
- Tinea Corporis. Ringworm of the body, it appears as ring-shaped patches.
- Tinea Cruris. Ringworm around the groin, inner thighs and buttocks, it is most common in men and adolescent boys.
- Tinea Pedis. Ringworm of the foot, it is frequently seen in people who go barefoot in public places.
What causes ringworm?
Three different types of fungi, Trichophyton, microsporum, and epidermophyton cause ringworm. These can live for an extended period as spores in soil, and humans and animals contract ringworm when they come in contact with such soil. This infection can also spread through contact with infected humans or animals.
Who is at risk?
Though anyone can develop ringworm, it is very common among children and people who own cats or dogs. Animals can catch ringworm and then pass it on to humans who touch them. Signs to look out for in pets include:
- Hairless, circular patches on skin.
- Crusty or scaly patches.
- Patches with brittle or broken hair.
- Opaque or whitish areas around the claws.
You may also contact these fungi, while you are on wet ground, are using a public shower or pool areas, share unwashed hairbrushes or clothes, or have minor skin injuries or abrasions.
Treatment for ringworm
Ringworm treatment includes both medication and precautions. There are many over the counter creams available to treat the ringworm infection. Ringworm at specific body parts such as nails and scalp may also require oral medications.
Home care for ringworm cure include:
- Not covering the affected area.
- Washing bedding and clothes daily to help disinfect the surroundings.
- Cleaning the skin regularly and drying it completely.
- Wearing clean and dry shower sandals when in public bath areas.
- Disinfecting your pet’s living areas.
Ringworm is curable and over the counter topical creams may clear ringworm in a few weeks depending on the severity. While most people respond positively to topical creams, do not delay in consulting a doctor for the same.