Tinea Infections (Ringworm)

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Tinea infections, commonly known as ringworm, are caused by a fungal lesion and can be identified by ring-shaped, red, scaly patches with clearing centers. There is an increased risk of contracting ringworm if a patient is malnourished, lives in a warm climate, suffers from poor hygiene, is immunocompromised by disease or medication, or has contact with other people or pets that have ringworm.

The most common types of ringworm include the following:

•    Athlete's foot (tinea pedis) mostly affects teen and adult males and less frequently affects children before puberty. Contributing causes include sweating, warm weather conditions, not properly drying the wet feet, and wearing tight socks and shoes. Symptoms of athlete's foot may include:

  1. Blisters, scaling and itchy rash on the feet
  2. Whitening of the skin between the toes

•    Jock itch (tinea cruris) is more common in males and very rare in females. It occurs more often during warm weather conditions. Symptoms of jock itch may include:

  1. Red, ring-like patches in the groin area
  2. tching and pain in the groin area
  3. Does not usually involve the scrotum

•    Scalp ringworm (tinea capitis) is highly contagious, especially among children and occurs mainly in children between the ages of 2 to 10. Symptoms of scalp ringworm may include:

  1. Red, scaly and itching rash on the scalp
  2. Hair loss on the scalp
  3. Rash elsewhere on the body

Scalp ringworm can develop into a kerion, a large, tender lesion over the area of the initial ringworm. This is condition is caused due to hypersensitivity to the ringworm and may be associated with tender lymph nodes in the neck and a rash elsewhere on the body.

•    Nail ringworm (tinea unguium) is characterized by a thickened, deformed nail. This condition more often affects the toenails than the fingernails and occurs more often in adolescents and adults rather than young children. Symptoms of nail ringworm may include:

  1. Thickening of the ends of the nails
  2. Yellow color to the nails

•    Body ringworm (tinea corporis) is identified by a ring-like rash anywhere on the body or the face. It is common more often in warmer climates and may occur in all ages, but is seen more frequently in children. The symptoms of body ringworm may include:

  1. Red, circular lesion with raised edges, the middle of the lesion may become less red as the lesion grows
  2. Itching of the affected area

Ringworm is usually diagnosed based on a medical history and physical examination. The lesions of ringworm are unique and usually allow for a diagnosis simply on physical examination. A doctor may order a culture or skin scraping of the lesion to confirm the diagnosis.

Treatment for scalp ringworm (tinea capitis) may include an oral antifungal medication, and may also require the use of a special shampoo to help eliminate the fungus. If a kerion is present, additional medications may be prescribed to help reduce the swelling.

Topical antifungal agent or oral antifungal medications are usually the treatment for ringworm of the body, groin, and foot. Recurrences of ringworm are likely since the fungi can live indefinitely on the skin.

The symptoms of ringworm may resemble other skin conditions. Always consult a doctor for a diagnosis.