Ringworm (tinea infection) is a fungal infection of the skin which is highly contagious. Ringworm gets its name from causing a circular rash – like a ring – which becomes red and itchy. Anyone can contract ringworm and the fungus which causes it can live on the skin, bedding, towels, and clothing.
Ringworm can go by many names which may be based on the location of where it occurs. For example, ringworm of the toes is athlete’s foot. Other terms for ringworm are tinea and dermatophytosis.
By now we know that ringworm is caused by a fungal infection, but if you’re curious as to how do you get ringworm, read below.
There are three main ways to contract ringworm: person to person, animal to person, and the environment. If you come into contact with a person who has ringworm you can then contract it yourself. This can even be passed on if you share towels, bedding or clothing with an infected person. Therefore it is best that an infected person does not share any clothing, bedding or towels with others.
Pets, too, can contract ringworm and so if you come into contact with an animal with ringworm you can get it to.
Lastly, ringworm can be contracted through the environment because, as mentioned, it can live on a variety of surfaces including damp areas like locker rooms and public showers. For safe measure it’s recommended you not walk around barefoot in such locations.
Ringworm occurs in three main stages: beginning, advanced and recovery stage.
In the beginning stage a rash may appear in a circular ring pattern and may or may not be itchy. Depending on where ringworm develops you can experience a flaky scalp or itchy toes or even discoloration of nails.
In the advanced stage the rash may become raised and bumps and blisters may appear. The skin may begin to become scaly, crusty, and red. It may even lead to hair falling out or burning sensation of the skin. If ringworm affects the nails the nail may become lifted and become misshaped.
Lastly, in the recovery stage it still may be common for skin to flake even though it is healing. Itchiness will gradually subside and eventually all will return to normal.
Ringworm symptoms are dependant on the location of the fungus.
Feet: redness and itchiness between the toes. Swollen, flaky skin and in severe cases blisters can form.
Scalp: scaly, itchy, red, circular bald spot.
Groin: scaly, itchy, red spots found in the skin folds of the thigh.
Beard: scaly, itchy red spots on the cheeks, chin and upper neck. Spots may become crusty and fill with pus.
Depending on the location of ringworm that will determine what treatment options are best to get rid of ringworm.
Ringworm of the skin: antifungal creams, lotions, powders.
Ringworm of the scalp: prescription antifungal medication taken orally – non-prescription creams and lotions are not effective for scalp ringworm.
If the infection does not go away or worsens you should speak with your health care provider right away. Although many form of ringworm can be treated with over the counter solutions, scalp ringworm cannot and so at the first site of scalp ringworm go visit your doctor immediately.
Along with medicinal treatments there are home remedies you can utilize in order to speed up the healing process of ringworm.