The actual cause of ringworm is infection with fungal organisms. These infectious fungal organisms are called dermatophytes and the medical term for ringworm is dermatophytosis.
Tinea corporis is a fugal infection caused by microorganisms called dermatophytes. Known as ringworm, tinea corporis refers to a fungal infection of the body or face.
It was noticed that tinea corporis does not affect the beard area on men. This is a common infection believed to affect equally both men and women of any age. Most of the cases are seen in warm, tropical environments.
It is believed that ringworm is a superficial fungus infection. As it was written before ringworm is caused by dermatophytes which are a group of fungi who live in dead tissues of the skin. Trichophyton rubrum, microsporum canis and trichophyton mentagrophytes are the most common fungi responsible for ringworm.
Ringworm appears as a flat, scaly spot that looks like a pimple. The infection increases and a round and enlarged patch can be seen. Usually after its enlargement the center of the flat and round patch clears.
The infection looks like a ring therefore the name.
Though, this infection has nothing to do with worms. In some infections such as those treated with a steroid like hydrocortisone the advancing borders or even the center of the infection can have vesicles or pustules.
Because the symptoms or the appearance of ringworm are similar to other skin conditions such as granuloma annulare, nummular eczema or tinea versicolor a KOH test is recommended. In most of the cases the diagnosis is set based on the appearance of the rash. More complex cases require this test that consists of an exam of the fungal cultures.
In spite of its popular name, the actual cause of ringworm is infection with fungal organisms.
These infectious fungal organisms are called dermatophytes and the medical term for ringworm is dermatophytosis.
Sometimes ringworm is also known as tinea. The fungal infectious organisms responsible for causing ringworm are widespread in nature and they commonly populate the soil.
The only effective means of preventing the occurrence of ringworm is to maintain a good hygiene. Ringworm is very contagious and it can easily be acquired through direct contact with contaminated people, animals or objects. Regularly wash your hands after entering in contact with stray animals, as many of them are carriers of the fungi responsible for causing ringworms in humans.
Arthrospores are the main cause of ringworm in humans. Although there are lots of animals contaminated with arthrospores, they usually don't show any signs of the disease. For some reason, most animals appear to be immune to this form of fungal infection.
Microsporum canis is a type of fungi that commonly infects cats. This type of fungus can be easily transmitted to other animals and to humans.
Ringworm in animals usually appears as a rapidly growing circular patch of broken hair. A 'cigarette ash' dandruff appears on the lesion and sometimes the patch has an inflamed margin. The infection is more common in young animals. In kittens, the patches usually occur on the head and feet.
It is strongly recommended to avoid physical contact with animals that show signs of disease in order to prevent contamination with infectious fungal elements.
Also, if you own a dog or a cat, ensure that your pet is not contaminated with dermatophytes by paying regular visits to a veterinary.
Ringworm can affect virtually any region of the body.
Ringworm can affect skin on your body (tinea corporis), scalp (tinea capitis), groin area (tinea cruris, also called jock itch), or feet.
Hands and feet are very exposed to fungal infection and dermatophytes often infect these body parts. Although it commonly affects skin, ringworm can also affect nails and scalp. Ringworm involves inflammation, rash and swelling of the skin, scalp, soft tissue and nails. Rash is usually the first sign that indicates the presence of fungal infections. Skin lesions may also appear in later stages of the disease. If the infection spreads through the deeper layers of the skin it can cause pustules and painful nodules. A hardened crust often forms on the surface of the affected skin. Common symptoms of ringworm are persistent itching, soreness and irritation.
Ringworm of the scalp appears in the form of pustules or pus-filled reddish bumps.
Foot ringworm usually affects the skin regions between the toes. Foot ringworm appears in the form of cracked, hardened skin. The affected skin also tends to exfoliate, causing itching and soreness.
Ringworm of the nails is manifested by thickening and discoloration of the nails.
Ringworm Treatment Tips
1. Keep your skin clean and dry.
2. Apply over-the-counter antifungal or drying powders, lotions, or creams.
3. Wash sheets and nightclothes every day while infected.
4. Topical shampoo therapy is used in almost every case, especially in longer haired pets.
5. Do not share clothing, towels, hairbrushes, combs, headgear, or other personal care items.
6. Wear sandals or shoes at gyms, lockers, and pools.
7. Avoid touching pets with bald spots.
8. Antifungal creams are readily available and may be efficient for small lesions.
Topical and oral treatments for Ringworm
Topical treatment has a benefic effect over this type of infections. Topical treatment consists of antifungal medicines that are applied on the infected areas. This treatment should last at least 3 weeks for the infection to disappear totally. It is recommended to use antifungal medicines twice a day. Even if the infection disappears after two weeks another week of treatment is necessary in order to completely eradicate the fungus. The most common lotions used in treating ringworm are miconazole, clotrimazole, ketoconazole and terbinafine.
Oral treatment of ringworm is recommended only if the lesion is spread over a large area. Oral treatment has to be taken once a day for 7 days in order to have the awaited result. In these cases oral antifungal medicines such as terbinafine and itraconazole are recommended.
It is very important to see a dermatologist if you have the symptoms of ringworm. Although it may resemble a simple rash or irritation, ringworm can cause serious complications if it is not appropriately treated. The treatment for ringworm can be prescribed in the form of oral tablets or creams and ointments for external use. The medications used in the treatment for ringworm contain antifungal material and they are usually very effective in overcoming the infection. With appropriate medical treatment, ringworm can be completely cured within a week.
Also see Medications Used in the Treatment of Ringworm
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