Ringworm is often mistakenly caused by a worm. However, contrary to its name, ringworm is a fungal infection of the skin. It is contagious and could affect any part of the body. It is characterized by reddish to brownish bumpy patch of skin. It could be lighter at the center that seems to appear like a ring.

The fungi that cause ringworm are feed on keratin that is present in the outer layer of the skin, hair and nails. The fungi could easily thrive and live in a moist skin, hot and hidden from light.

Transmission of Ringworm

Ringworm is a common skin disease that attacks all walks of life regardless of age and race. It is very common especially among children who have a very active lifestyle. Their sweat as they play outside could moist the skin and make it vulnerable to fungi attacks.

Ringworm could be easily transmitted through skin to skin contact and contaminated items such as hairbrushes, slippers, shoes and socks. Ringworm does not only exist in humans but is also a very common disease among domestic animals like dogs, cats and farm animals. Human can contact the fungi that cause ringworm from these animals. Chicken is one of the most susceptible sources of ringworm because it stays in dirty and moist environment.

Those suffering from eczema and other skin problems are more likely to catch ringworms too because their skin’s outer later in no longer intact.

Types of Ringworms

Many species of fungi causes ringworm. However, the most common these are the dermathophytes, which could attack various parts of the body. Tinea pedis affects the feet. This is commonly called as athlete’s food. More than it cause the feet to become itchy, it also gives the feet foul odor. Tinea unguinum attacks the fingernails and toenails. This kind seems to eat the nails. Tinea corposis is responsible for the arms, legs and trunk. Tinea crusis, also known as jock itch, is found in the groin area. Tinea manatum affects the hands and palms. Tinea capitis, which is often mistaken as dandruff, affects the scalp.

Ringworm Signs and Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of ringworm are physically visible. When there is already an appearance of one or more itchy patches in the skin with define edges most likely these are ringworms. Ringworms are different with rashes or other patches like those caused by insect bites. Ringworm patches appear like rings because they have lighter centers. When they are found in the nails, usually the nails discolor, thicken and fall.

As part of diagnosis, doctors may take skin scrapping or examine plucked hairs for traces of fungi. Fungi are very tiny beings so they are examined under the help of microscope. However, there are kind of fungi that fluoresce under a black light.

Skin lesions are also signs of the presence of ringworm infection. These lesions are called dermatophytids.

Prevention of Ringworm Infection

Fungi like to thrive in moist areas like locker rooms, swimming pools and skin folds. The prevention of ringworm infection is better than waiting for its attack then curing it. Some of the prevention tips are as follows: Avoid sharing of clothing, always wear slippers especially in moist areas, avoid skin to skin contacts or shower with antifungal soap after a contact sports, dry your feet first before wearing socks and avoid contacts with pets that stay in dirty areas of the house.

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