Ringworm is a common fungal infection. There can be multiple forms of ringworm, and the disease can affect different parts of the body. Ringworm commonly infects the skin on the hands, feet, neck and face. The disease can also affect the scalp or the nails.
Ringworm first appears like a red dot on the skin. As the infection evolves, the inflammation worsens and the redness expands, covering more skin.
In the absence of medical treatment for ringworm, the infection spreads quickly and the disease can aggravate rapidly. Left untreated, blisters and pustules may occur on the skin patches affected by ringworm and the infected areas become itchy. The borders of the affected skin become raised, crusty and have a ring-like aspect; hence the disease was given the name "ringworm".
People with eczema or other skin problems get ringworm more easily because the protective barrier of the skin's outer layer is less intact. Children are more susceptible before puberty.
Spreading the Fungus Ringworm is very common among children, and may be spread by skin-to-skin contact, as well as via contact with contaminated items such as hairbrushes. Those infected are contagious even before they show symptoms of the disease as the ringworm fungi spreads readily. Participants in contact sports such as wrestling have a risk of contracting the fungal infection through skin-to-skin contact.
Ringworm is caused by infection with a species of fungal organisms called dermatophytes. These fungi commonly populate the soil and they can be found everywhere in nature. Ringworm is very contagious and the fungal organisms responsible for causing the disease can either be contracted directly, through physical contact with infected people or animals, or indirectly, through physical contact with contaminated objects.
Many domestic animals are infected with dermatophytes and ringworm is common in furry animals such as cats and dogs. Although many animals are carriers for the infectious fungal elements responsible for causing ringworm, very few are actually affected by the disease.
People who acquire ringworm can be carriers for the fungal organisms without showing any symptoms of disease. The infection may occur only if the persons who have contracted the infectious fungal elements present skin lesions, scratches or irritation. Damaged skin allows the fungi to penetrate the superficial epidermal layers, in which case they can cause inflammation and infection.
The most effective treatments for ringworm should contain antifungal materials, either under the form of oral pills, or under the form of creams, gels and lotions for external use.
In the absence of an appropriate treatment for ringworm, the infection evolves rapidly and the inflamed skin regions are also susceptible to bacterial infection. The treatment for ringworm should commence as soon as the infected persons show signs of the disease.
Signs That You Have Ringworm
The appearance of one or more red raised itchy patches with defined edges is the best known sign of ringworm in people. These patches are often lighter in the center, taking on the appearance of a ring. Bald patches may become evident if the infected area involves the scalp or beard area. The affected area may become itchy for periods of time. If the nails are affected, they may thicken, discolor, and finally crumble and fall off.
Sometimes a ringworm infection may cause skin lesions in a part of the body that is outside from the actual infection. Such lesions are called "dermatophytids". The lesions themselves are free of fungus, and normally disappear upon treatment of the actual infection. Dermatophytids are fundamentally a overall allergic reaction to the fungus.
Ringworm Treatments - Topical
Antifungal medications are aimed at killing the fungi and they can clear the infection in about 7-10 days if ringworm is uncomplicated. In order to prevent the recurrence of the disease, the treatment for ringworm should continue for another 10 days after the symptoms have disappeared.
Topical antifungal drugs containing miconazole, clotrimazole, terbinafine, butenafine and tolnaftate, many of these are available without a prescription, are used to clear up the infection. Brand names include Micatin, Tinactin, Monistat, Lotrimin, Bentax, Butop(India) and Lamisil. Generic equivalents may be available.
Ketoconazole-containing medicines are very effective in the treatment for ringworm.
Nizoral shampoo contains ketoconazole (a powerful antifungal substance) and it is commonly used in the treatment for ringworm. The shampoo should be applied on the scalp and on the entire body skin in order to ensure complete eradication of the infectious fungi. Nizoral should be used 2-3 times a week in order to achieve the best results.
Hydrochloride cream (Lamisil) is also very effective in overcoming fungal infections and it has been successfully used in the treatment for ringworm. Lamisil should be used daily, applying the cream on the affected regions of the skin. In order to potentate the action of the cream, the skin needs to be clean and dry.
Ringworm Treatments Oral
Although external treatments for ringworm are effective in overcoming infections of the skin, if the disease affects the nails, oral medications are required.
Oral Lamisil and Griseofulvin are common in the treatment for ringworm and they can be successfully used in overcoming infections of the nails.
Some oral treatments for ringworm have many side-effects and they aren't recommended for long-term use. If you have dermatophytosis, it is best to pay a visit to your dermatologist in order to receive the treatment for ringworm that is most appropriate to you.
Also see Interesting Facts about Ringworm
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