Ringworm, also known as Tinea or Dermatophytosis, is a fungal infection that develops on the top layer of the skin. It is characterized by a red circular rash with clear or red skin in the middle. Ringworm is not caused by worms. It gets its name due to the appearance of its rash. This infection can affect both humans and animals. The infection initially affects the skin and later it may spread to other parts of the body. It spreads by direct skin contact with an infected person or animal.
The types of ringworm are classified based on the site infected.:
• Tinea Capitis (Ringworm infection of the scalp): It often starts as sores which lead to itchy and scaly scalp patches. It is most common in children.
• Tinea Corporis (Ringworm infection of the body): It is characterised by circular patches all over the body. It is more common in young children.
• Tinea Cruris (Jock itch): It is a form of ringworm that appears as patches around the groin, inner thighs, and buttocks. It is common in men and adolescent boys.
• Tinea Pedis (Ringworm infection of the foot). It is common in adult men. Walking barefoot in damp areas such as the bathroom or around the swimming pool increases the risk of Tinea pedis.
• Tinea Barbae (Ringworm infection of beard and moustache area): It commonly occurs in older adolescent and adult men and it appears as swellings and marked crusting.
• Tinea Manuum (Ringworm infection of hands): It is characterised by dryness, peeling and mild itching or the palms and spaces between the fingers.
• Tinea Unguium (Ringworm infection of the nails): It is characterised by white, thick and brittle nails. Toenails are more commonly affected than the fingernails.
There are many types of fungi which may cause this infection. Common ones include: Trichophyton rubrum, T. Tonsurans, T. Interdigitale, T. Mentagrophytes, Microsporum canis and Epidermophyton floccosum. Ringworm infection occurs in people of all ages but is more common in children. It mostly occurs in moist and warm areas of the body, such as skin folds of the groin or between the toes.
Individuals are at high risk of ringworm if they:
Seldom does fungal infection spreads below the surface of the skin and cause serious illness.
Ringworm is diagnosed by examining the affected skin under a black light. The fungi will fluoresce under the black light. Physician may confirm ringworm infection by the following tests:
• Skin biopsy or fungal culture: A sample of skin or discharge from a blister is collected and sent to the lab for detecting the presence of fungi.
• Potassium hydroxide (KOH) Exam: The doctor may scrape off a small sample of the infected skin and treat it with potassium hydroxide solution.The solution dissolves the non-fungal elements while yeast cells and other fungi can be viewed under a microscope..
It is necessary to take anti-fungal medications to cure ringworm. It can be administered topically or systemically.
Ringworm can be prevented by practicing healthy and hygienic habits. Preventive measures can be taken to reduce the risk of infection:
Who are usually affected by acne? Most people with acne are aged between 12 and 25 but some older and younger people are affected. Boys are more commonly affected than girls.
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