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Ringworm Treatment, symptoms, Prevention

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Ringworm Treatment, symptoms, Prevention

Ringworm is a contagious infection of the skin (tinea corporis), the groin (tinea cruris or jock itch), the feet (tinea pedis or athlete’s foot) or the scalp (commonly called scalp ringworm or tinea capitis) provoked by some types of fungus called dermatophytes. Most of times, the infection is transmitted from animal to human or an infected person to a healthy person. Ringworm can also be transmitted indirectly through certain:

  • Hats
  • Scarves
  • Pillows
  • Comb
  • Brush
  • Pool surfaces
  • Shower floors and walls.

The incidence of ringworm varies depending on the organ affected by the infection. For instance, ringworm of the scalp affects mostly children under 12 years, about nine cases out of ten. However, unlike many other contagious diseases, ringworm does not recur or relapse. It can only affect you once; once the infection is treated, your body produces an immune response to prevent future infection.

Ringworm Symptoms

Ringworm: Signs, Symptoms, and ComplicationsUsually, the main characteristic of ringworm is spots or patches with redder around the outside and normal skin tone in the center, which gives the appearance of a ring. However, the signs and symptoms of the disease tend to slightly vary depending on the organ affected; thus

Ringworm of the skin (tinea corporis) is generally characterized by red-colored spots developing on the arms, legs or face. Usually, the patches are scaly and itchy.


Ringworm of the groin (tinea cruris or jock itch) can cause a persistent itching in the groin, thigh or anal area.  As you constantly scratch your skin, it may become discolored to a reddish-brown color. Persistent itching can cause the disease to extend to other areas of your body.

Ringworm of the feet (tinea pedis or athlete’s foot) tends to develop in the moist areas of the foot, heels, palms and mostly between the toes; the skin becomes cracked, flaking and peeling.

Ringworm of the scalp (scalp ringworm or tinea capitis) affects mostly children; it is often responsible for the occurrence of:

  • Itchy and red scaly patches in your scalp
  • Bald or scaly patches in your beard (when affects adult male)
  • Brittle or fragile hair which break off easily
  • Painful bald spots in your scalp or beard

Ringworm Causes

Ringworm occurs when certain dermatophytes penetrate the scalp or the skin. The transmission of this fungus is made up of a human to another, from an object to human, animal to human or rarely soil to human.

Human to human – the germs are passed from person to person; this is the most common form of ringworm transmission. Homeless individuals or People who live in transplanted family due to social and economic conditions are at higher risk of this from transmission.

Object to human – the germ of the disease can be transmitted from objects to human; objects that are known to carry dermatophytes include: clothing, towels, combs, brushes or bedding and linens. In other words, the chance for having ringworm is higher for anyone who shares with others personal or cosmetic products.

Soil to human – although rare, prolonged exposure or contact with a soil containing dermatophytes can lead to the development of ringworm

Animal to human – having a pet is nice; however, petting certain animal such as dogs and cats increase the risk of ringworm.  That is, the risk of ringworm is higher for anyone having the following pet:

  • Dogs
  • Cats
  • Pigs
  • Rabbits
  • Horses.


Your physician will look for spots or patches with redder around the outside and normal skin tone in the center, which gives the appearance of a ring; this is an important indication of ringworm. Your physician will examine the infected areas and recommend some medical tests to rule out other diseases that have similar symptoms to ringworm: eczema, psoriasis, etc.

Wood’s lamp exam – an exam with an ultraviolet lamp (Wood’s light) is an important tool in detecting fungi that cause occurrence of ringworm. This examination can be done to strengthen the confirmation of the diagnosis and facilitate the removal of contaminated hair.

Direct examination of hair – in the diagnosis of ringworm, it is often necessary to remove a couple of infected hair to study them in the laboratory. These samples will be analyzed under a microscope and placed in culture to confirm the diagnosis and identify the fungus responsible for the infection.

Skin scraping – the dermatologist may recommend a sample of the infected skin to be analyzed in the lab by a specialist. During the procedure, the health care provider will scratch the surface of the spot, collect sample for examination under a microscope; this exam, however, is rarely necessary in ringworm diagnosis.

Skin biopsy – if the above tests are not conclusive, a skin biopsy will be performed to confirm the diagnosis.

Healthy pets can carry the germ of ringworm.  Individuals who have pet and suffer from ringworm may need the help of a veterinarian to determine if their pets do not carry agents involved in the development of the disease.

Ringworm Treatment

Son reales las fechas de caducidad de las pastillas?The treatment involves shaving the affected areas and prescription of antifungal medications to be taken orally for 1 or 2 months. During treatment, it is important to avoid direct or indirect contact with friends, family and coworkers to reduce or eliminate the risk of human to human transmission. It is also necessary to avoid direct contact with pets.

Those restrictions also apply to children. Most of the times, it is also recommended for children suffering from ringworm to stay home for the first 15 school days of the treatment.  A local treatment may be associated with ointments or creams that are fungicides; they should be applied after washing with antiseptic shampoo.

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