Ringworm is the common name given to a skin disease called tinea, which is caused by a dermatophyte fungus that lives on the top layer of skin. The word describes the typical appearance of the rash, which is usually a ring-shaped red rash that is raised along the outside edge and is scaly. This disease has different names for different parts of the body that can be affected, including:
|Feet:||Athlete’s foot||Tinea pedis|
|Groin:||Jock itch||Tinea cruris|
|Scalp:||Scalp ringworm||Tinea capitis (mostly only in children)|
This skin disease is contageous and can be spread easily from skin-to-skin contact, such as head-to-head contact between children, but for adults it is more often spread from shower floors, gym locker rooms, or by petting a dog, cat, or farm animal with ringworm. Your risk for getting ringworm increases if you live in a hot, humid environment, sweat heavily, engage in a contact sport like football or wrestling, live in close quarters such as military or dorm housing, share towels, clothing, or razors, and are obese or have diabetes.
A dermatologist often recognizes ringworm just by looking, but a diagnostic test such as a skin biopsy, a gentle scraping of scale, or a clipping of a nail is often necessary to clarify the diagnosis before starting treatment. Treatment is important because tinea can become much larger and spread to other body areas if left untreated. Treatment will also help prevent spreading to others. Treatment for this condition may include an antifungal cream, ointment, or pill medication depending on the type, extent, and location of the dermatophyte infection on the body. Many of these medications are safe for children. There are also medicated powders that can help prevent a new appearance of ringworm in an area that is more often sweaty and prone to repeat infection (groin, feet).