By:Kaylee Blair, Keziah Ventling
Ringworm is a misnomer-the infection is not caused by a worm at all, but by a fungus.
Who is at Risk?
You're at higher risk of ringworm of the body if you:
- Are a child younger than 15 years old
- Live in damp, humid or crowded conditions
- Have close contact with an infected person or animal
- Share clothing, bedding or towels with someone who has a fungal infection
- Participate in sports that feature skin-to-skin contact, such as wrestling
- Wear tight or restricted clothing
- Have a weakened immune system
How is the disease transmitted
Ringworm is common, especially among children. However, it may affect people of all ages. It is caused by a fungus, not a worm like the name suggests.
Many bacteria and fungi live on your body. Some of these are useful, while others can cause infections. Ringworm occurs when a type of fungus called tinea grows and multiplies on your skin.
Ringworm can affect the skin on your:
Body -- tinea corporis
Feet -- tinea pedis(also called athlete's foot)
Groin area -- tinea cruris(also called jock itch)
Scalp -- tinea capitis
Ringworm can spread easily from one person to another. You can catch ringworm if you touch someone who has the infection, or if you come into contact with items contaminated by the fungus, such as combs, unwashed clothing, and shower or pool surfaces. You can also catch ringworm from pets that carry the fungus. Cats are common carriers.
The fungus that causes ringworm thrive in warm, moist areas. Ringworm is more likely when you are often wet (such as from sweating) and from minor injuries to your skin, scalp, or nails.
Itchy, red, raised, scaly patches that may blister and ooze.
The patches tend to have sharply-defined edges.
Red patches are often redder around the outside with normal skin tone in the center. This may look like a ring.
If ringworm affects your hair, you will have bald patches.
If ringworm affects your nails, they will become discolored, thick, and even crumble.
To prevent ringworm:
Keep your skin and feet clean and dry.
Shampoo regularly, especially after haircuts.
Do not share clothing, towels, hairbrushes, combs, headgear, or other personal care items. Such items should be thoroughly cleaned and dried after use.
Wear sandals or shoes at gyms, lockers, and pools.
Avoid touching pets with bald spots.
The medical term for ringworm is dermatophytosis
Treatment for Ringworms
Apply over-the-counter antifungal or drying powders, lotions, or creams that contain miconazole, clotrimazole, or similar ingredients.
Do not wear clothing that rubs against and irritates the area.
Wash sheets and nightclothes every day while you are infected.
Your health care provider may prescribe pills to treat the fungus if you have:
A severe case of ringworm
Ringworm that keeps coming back or that lasts for a long time
Ringworm in your hair
You may need medicines such as ketoconazole, which are stronger than over-the-counter products. You may also need antibiotics to treat skin infections from strep or staph that are caused by scratching the area.
Infected pets also should be treated.