Despite its name, ringworm is not an infestation by a worm but a fungal infection of the skin. Different fungi cause ringworm on different parts of the body: Tinea capitis (scalp), Tinea corporis (body), Tinea cruris (groin), Tinea pedis (feet), and Tinea unguium (nails). These are dermatophytes -- fungi that cause infections of the skin, hair, and nails.
Ringworm Infection Information
Ringworm usually appears as red blotches that slowly grow larger, then become itchy and clear in the middle, thus eventually looking like rings. The infection spreads through close contact with infected people or animals; through objects, such as floors, that harbor the fungus; and, rarely, through the soil.
Although testing is not usually necessary, a fungal culture can confirm a ringworm diagnosis. If ringworm is on the scalp, it can cause bald spots. An infection here typically requires oral antifungal medication for an extended period of time, usually six to eight weeks. Ringworm on the nails also requires oral medication, often for several months. Ringworm on other parts of the body is more easily treated -- an antifungal cream will clear up the infection in two to four weeks.
Who's at Risk for Ringworm?
Anyone can develop ringworm, but young children, people who are in close contact with infected individuals or animals, and people with poor hygiene habits are most susceptible.
Defensive Measures Against Ringworm
Ringworm can be contagious even before symptoms appear, which makes it difficult to avoid. However, you can take a few simple measures to prevent the spread of ringworm, including:
- ">Treating infected people and pets promptly
- Avoiding contact with infected people and animals
- Not sharing personal items, including hairbrushes, clothing, towels, and shoes
- Keeping common areas clean and disinfected
- Bathing daily
- Washing hands frequently
- Laundering an infected person's clothing and linens in hot water
Roseola, which causes a high fever and a pink rash, most commonly affects children younger than 2 years old. Go to the next page to learn about treating and preventing roseola.This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.