Ringworm is a dermatological condition that is highly infectious. While it may sound ironic, the condition is not caused by a worm, rather it is due to a fungal infection caused by a microorganism called dermatophyes. It is called ringworm because it forms a rash that is a ring in shape. The fungus usually thrives on the dead outer layer of the skin, making it highly infectious once you come in contact with a person with an active lesion.
A ringworm is common among children, but it can spread to anyone. The ringworm may occur in different parts of the body and the infection is called by different names. It is referred to as tinea corporis when it affects the body, tinea barbae when it occurs on the beard, tinea pedis or more popularly known as athlete's foot when affecting the feet, jock itch or tinea cruris when it grows on the groin and tinea capitis when it forms on the scalp.
How do you get a ringworm
The fungus that causes the ringworm can easily be passed on from one person to another by direct contact. Sharing personal things like towels, comb and beddings are potential sources of transmission of the fungus. An individual with a weak immune system and diabetes are also susceptible to getting the infection when they come in contact with the microorganism causing the condition. Living in a warm, humid environment can also increase the risk of getting a ringworm because fungus thrives in this kind of environment. It is also possible to contract the fungal infection from animals, especially cats and dogs that are known carriers of the fungus. A break in the skin, nails and scalp can also give the fungus a potential entry to the skin.
Symptoms of a ringworm
A ringworm usually appears as a raised, red and itchy patches on the skin. It is a ring in shape and may appear scaly or inflamed. The patches may appear to have sharply defined edges that look redder. The ring shaped rash can grow bigger gradually. Most of the time, you can only get a single patch of infection. The tendency to develop several ringworms on the body is higher when you are handling animals that are carriers of the fungus.
The symptoms of a ringworm may vary depending on what type of fungal infection one has. Some may appear like a rash, mildly irritating, inflamed or scaly. Other ringworm infection may look like a psoriasis. The symptoms usually appear on the face, legs, arms, neck and the body. When it affects the nails, it can cause discoloration and the nail may appear thick and may crumble. Ringworm on the scalp may cause bald patches.
How are ringworms diagnosed?
A physical examination of the skin gives an immediate diagnosis of ringworm. Just by looking at the characteristic appearance of the ring shaped skin patches will give an indication that you have a ringworm. In certain instances, however, your doctor may use a fluorescent that will cause the fungus to glow for effective detection and confirmation. Tests like a skin biopsy, skin culture and KOH exam may also be used as diagnostic tools. A tissue sample may be taken from your infected skin, such as when there is a discharge from a blister, for biopsy to test for the presence of a fungus. The potassium hydroxide (KOH) helps in destroying the normal cells where the fungus may hide to make it easier to find them under a microscope.
Treatment for ringworm
The most common form of treatment for a ringworm is an antifungal cream. They are administered topically as creams. Common types of antifungal creams are econazole, terbinafine, miconazole, ketoconazole, and clotrimazole. The cream is applied around the skin patch, including the surrounding areas that appear not to be infected. The application for treatment usually lasts up to 4 weeks or lesser depending upon the extent of your infection. The topical medicine that you will buy will provide the proper use of the medicine. You should also follow in using them as prescribed by your doctor.
More severe forms of ringworm is usually treated with antifungal cream together with a steroidal cream. The treatment may take seven days to complete. The use of steroid is discontinued afterwards and you will need to continue using the cream alone because the steroid mainly reduces the inflammation and symptoms of the ringworm, but it does not kill the fungus. Oral medicine is usually indicated for the most severe and widespread infection.
In addition to the prescription medicine and antifungal topical creams, proper home care and self care are also important. You can avoid spreading the infection by washing your beddings frequently and do not share personal things like towels and combs. Washing the hands frequently can also reduce the risk of spreading the fungus.
Home remedies for ringworm
There are also home treatments available for treating a ringworm. They are cheaper and they can be administered quick and easy.
- Apply Aloe Vera extracts on the affected skin.
- A tea tree oil (may be diluted in water) applied twice a day for four weeks can cure a ringworm.
- Mix salt with vinegar to form a paste and directly apply it on the skin.
- Soak a cotton ball in apple cider vinegar and apply it directly on the rash or red patch.
- The antibiotic properties of turmeric can treat ringworm by directly applying it on the skin.
These ringworm treatments may take longer to cure a ringworm. Find out how to treat ringworms in three days or less. Click here!