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Cause of Ringworm | How Do You Get Ringworm | Ringworm Symptoms | Ringworm Prevention | Ringworm Contagious | Ringworm Incubation Period | Ringworm Treatment
Athletes Foot | Jock Itch | Ringworm of The Nail | Scalp Ringworm
Ringworm | What Does Ringworm Look Like? | Is Ringworm Serious?
Ringworm is not actually a worm or parasite but is a contagious fungal skin infection.
A fungus is a member of the plant family that includes dermatophytes, yeast's, and molds. Fungi can be found on living and nonliving things. Fungi are tiny plants that survive by eating plant or animal material. Fungi also may be involved in infections throughout the body, such as in the central nervous system or the bloodstream.
Ringworm is a microscopic fungus that only infects the outer layer of the skin, living and multiplying on the top layer of dead skin. The ringworm fungi feed on keratin, the material found in the outer layer of skin, hair, and nails. They rarely invade deeper into the body and cannot live on mucous membranes, such as those in the mouth or vagina.
These fungi thrive best on skin that is moist, hot, and hidden from the light. A ringworm fungal skin infection located on one part of the body can cause a rash in another area of the body that isn't infected. These areas appear due to an allergic reaction to the fungus.
Ringworm occurs when a particular type of fungus grows and multiplies anywhere on your skin, scalp, fingers, nails or feet. Ringworm of the body can develop anywhere on the skin and can spread rapidly to other parts of the body or to other people with whom there is close bodily contact or touching.
The fungus that is the cause of ringworm is usually classified by its location on the body. The medical term for many fungal infections is (tinea), followed by a word which describes the location of infection. For example, tinea corporis is ringworm of the skin anywhere on the body but the scalp, beard, feet, or hands. Tinea is a type of fungus, and corporis is the Latin word for "body."
These fungal skin infections are all known as (tinea) fungal skin infections.
Ringworm of The Body (tinea corporis)
Jock Itch (tinea cruris)
Athlete's Foot (tinea pedis)
Ringworm of The Nail (tinea unguium)
Scalp Ringworm (tinea capitis)
Face Ringworm (tinea faciei) is ringworm on the face except in the area of the beard. On the face, ringworm is rarely ring-shaped. Characteristically, it causes red, scaly patches with indistinct edges.
Ringworm of the Hands (tinea manus) particularly the palms and the spaces between the fingers. It typically causes thickening (hyperkeratosis) of these areas, often on only one hand. Tinea manus is a common companion of tinea pedis (ringworm of the feet). It is also called tinea manuum.
What Does Ringworm Look Like?
The term "ringworm" refers to round or oval red scaly patches with pink scaly borders, often less red and scaly in the middle or healed in the middle. At the edge of the ring the skin is lifted up by the fungus and looks red and scaly. It often contains fluid or pus, but may be dry and scaly or moist and crusted. The lesion tends to heal centrally and sometimes one ring arises inside another older ring. The fungus looks like a ring or a coin-sized blotch (one-half to one inch in diameter). In acute cases the rash is itchy. Often, there are several patches of ringworm on your skin at once. On the face, ringworm is rarely ring-shaped.
The characteristic "ring" appearance is primarily a human phenomenon. In animals, ringworm frequently looks like a dry, grey, scaly patch but can also mimic any other skin lesion and have any appearance. The same fungi that infect humans can also infect animals such as dogs and cats, and infections may be acquired from pets as well as from infected children. The type acquired from pets is not transmitted from human to human, only from animal to human.
Is Ringworm Serious?
Ringworm usually isn't serious, except potentially for people with weak immune systems. However, they may lead to more serious bacterial infections in the elderly and those who have conditions that affect the immune system, such as AIDS.
Ringworm infections appear to be increasing steadily, especially among preschool and school-age children. Early recognition and treatment are needed to slow the spread of infection and to prevent re-infection. In the United States it is estimated that 10% to 20% of the population is affected by fungal infections of the skin. Ringworm is a common skin disorder, especially among children, but it may affect people of all ages.
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