Ring worm

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Overview

Ringworm is a common infection of the skin and nails that is caused by fungus. The infection is called “ringworm” because it can cause an itchy, red, circular rash. Ringworm is also called “tinea” or “dermatophytosis.” The different types of ringworm are usually named for the location of the infection on the body.


Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of ringworm may include:


A scaly ring-shaped area, typically on the buttocks, trunk, arms and legs

Itchiness

A clear or scaly area inside the ring, perhaps with a scattering of bumps whose color ranges from red on white skin to reddish, purplish, brown or gray on black and brown skin

Slightly raised, expanding rings

A round, flat patch of itchy skin

Overlapping rings

Causes

About 40 different species of fungus can cause ringworm. They are typically of the Trichophyton, Microsporum, and Epidermophyton types.

These fungi can live on your skin and other surfaces, particularly damp areas. They may also live for an extended period of time as spores in soil.

The fungi can spread to humans in four ways:

Human to human. You can get the infection if you come in contact with a person who has ringworm or if you share personal items, such as combs or towels. The infection is commonly spread among children and by sharing items harboring the fungus.

Animal to human. You can get ringworm after touching an affected animal or even items the animal has come in contact with. Cats and dogs are common sources, but other animals, such as farm animals, can spread the fungi as well.

Object to human. You may get the infection if you come in contact with an object or surface that has it, such as a telephone or the floor of a public shower. These fungi thrive in damp environments.

Soil to human. Humans and animals can get ringworm after direct contact with soil that is carrying the fungi.

Risk factors

Live in a warm climate.

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 restrictive clothing.

Have a weak immune system.

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Complications

hair loss and scarring.

dark marks left on your skin, particularly on darker skin.

nail deformities.

secondary infection if any bacteria entered broken skin, which is common in children.

Majocchi's granuloma, a rare infection where the fungus has made its way to deeper layers of the skin.

Prevention

Practicing healthy and hygienic behaviors can help prevent ringworm. Infections may come from contact with animals and lack of hygiene. Several tips to prevent ringworm include:


washing your hands after interacting with an animal

disinfecting and cleaning pet living areas

limiting contact with people or animals with ringworm if you have a weakened immune system

wearing shoes if showering or walking in community areas

not sharing personal items like clothing, towels, or hairbrushes with people who might have ringworm

changing your socks and underwear at least once a day

keeping your gear and uniform clean if you play sports

keeping your skin clean and dry