Ringworm (Tinea corporis)

Ringworm or tinea corporis is not a worm - actually, it is a fungal infection of the skin.

Symptoms of Ringworm

The symptoms of ringworm include:

  • Red, ring-shaped patches
  • Slightly elevated bumps with scaly border
  • Itching and pain
  • Hair loss, redness, and flaking skin (when on the scalp)

Ringworm can affect all parts of the body - however, it is most commonly found on the scalp (called tinea capitis), chest, back, arms, and legs.

Tinea capitis or ringworm in the scalp
Ringworm infection of the scalp or tinea capitis.

Tinea pedis or ringworm infection of the foot
Ringworm infection of the foot or tinea pedis.

Causes of Ringworm

Several species of the Microsporum and Trichophyton fungi. These fungi are very contagious, and are transmitted by direct contact or shared items, such as clothings, combs, brushes, hats, and towels. It is thought that even pets can transmit this disease!

Ringworm causing trichophyton fungus
Trichophyton terrestre in a culture dish.

Who Gets Ringworm?

Mostly children - however, it may develop in men and women of all ages.

Ringworm Treatment

Ringworm treatments include:

  • Over-the-counter antifungal creams containing clotrimazole or miconazole
  • Using shampoo with selenium sulfide to reduce shedding of the fungus
  • Prescription antifungal creams
  • Oral antifungal medications

Over-the-counter creams are usually effective against ringworm infection on the skin. Infection on the scalp, however, require prescribed oral medication. Left untreated, ringworm on the scalp can cause permanent hair loss and scarring.

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