Ringworm refers to a skin condition caused due to fungal infection of the uppermost layer of the skin. It is characterized by the presence of an itchy, circular, reddish rash. This rash often comprises of clear, unaffected skin at its center. Ringworm has no association with the worm that actually occurs inside the body. The skin disorder gets its name from the ring-like appearance of the rash. In medical terms, ringworm is referred to as tinea corporis.
The appearance of ringworm
Ringworm rash has a very distinct appearance. Some of the signs and symptoms of the condition are listed below:
- The topmost layer of skin may develop a circular rash. Its borders are reddish, inflamed, and swollen. The ringworm rash may elicit clear, healthy skin in its center.
- The rings of the rash tend to expand from the center. They are slightly elevated, scaly, and have reddish skin. The rash generally occurs on the face or the trunk.
- The affected skin may also experience non-raised, circular patches of skin which are itchy.
- One or many irregular patches of ringworm infection may be observed on the patient. These patches may often overlap with the reddish rings. It may also be noted that individuals may be infected by ringworm, without actually developing the tell-tale ring-like rashes on the skin.
Ringworm fungal infections do not result in any harmful complications, and does not affect the deeper layers of the skin. The infection typically occurs on only the top skin layer. However, individuals with compromised immune systems, like cancer and HIV/AIDS patients, may experience several difficulties in the elimination of ringworm infection.
Causes of ringworm
Ringworm is caused due to infection by a particular type of fungus. The mold-like fungi or dermatophytes tend to affect the uppermost section of the skin and cause typical rashes.
Ringworm is a contagious condition. It can spread from person to person in the below listed ways:
- Direct contact with the skin of an infected individual is the most common way in which ringworm spreads to other people
- Direct contact with infected animals can also help the transfer of ringworm. Humans can easily become infected when grooming a pet cat or dog that is infected with the fungus. It is also possible for humans to catch the infection from other animals such as ferrets, goats, pigs, horses, and rabbits.
- The fungus can reside in varied objects such as brushes, towels, clothing, combs, linens, and bedding, etc. Ringworm can also spread indirectly when people come touch or come into contact with the different items that have been recently used by an infected person.
- In very rare cases, ringworm infection can spread from soil to humans. It mat however be noted ringworm transfer is only possible after prolonged contact with highly infected soil.
Treatment of ringworm
- A majority of ringworm cases can be treated with over the counter anti-fungal topical medications and different self-care methods.
- In case ringworm infections persist, then the patient has to consult a doctor for further treatment.