What Is Ringworm Infection?
Ringworm is an infection caused by a fungus that lives on the cells present on the outer layer of the skin. It can also live on household items such as clothing, towels, and bedding. Ringworm has many names given based on the infection affecting the location of the body. Ringworm is otherwise known as tinea or dermatophytosis.
Areas of the body that can be affected by ringworm are,
2) Groin, inner thighs, or buttocks,
6) Toenails or fingernails
7) Other parts of the body such as arms or legs.
Approximately 40 different species of fungi cause ringworm. The fungus causing ringworm infection are Trichophyton, Microsporum, and Epidermophyton.
Ringworm affecting the feet is known as tinea pedis or athlete’s foot. Ringworms affecting the groin, inner thighs, or buttocks are called tinea cruris or jock itch. Ringworms causing infection in the hands are referred to as the tinea manuum.
1) The scalp is known as tinea capitis.
2) The beard is known as tinea barbae.
3) The fingernails or toenails are known as onychomycosis.
4) Other parts of the body are known as tinea corporis.
What Are the Symptoms of Ringworm Infections?
Ringworm can affect the skin or almost any part of the body, fingernails, and toenails. The symptoms of ringworm vary based on the part of the body infected. But ringworm infection generally causes itchy skin, ring-shaped rash, red and scaly cracked skin, and hair loss. Symptoms start to appear within 4 to 14 days after the skin contacts the fungus that causes ringworm infections.
What Are the General Facts to Know About Ringworm Infections?
Ringworm infection affects people of all age groups and has a worldwide distribution.
It is contagious as it can quickly spread from one person to another. It can also spread by contact through infected animals and soil.
Once acquired by a person, the same individual can become a source of autoinfection to other body areas, nails, and hairs.
Ringworm infections commonly occur in tropical regions (hot and humid environments), the obese, diabetics, persons on medications that lower one’s resistance to infections (like steroids, anticancer treatment, debilitating conditions), and those living under unhygienic conditions.
It is possible to prevent this infection from spreading further. Several measures help in early recovery and are performed at an individual level.
How Is Ringworm Infection Diagnosed?
The doctor might be able to diagnose ringworm infection simply by looking at it. The doctor may also take skin scrapings from the affected area to be examined under a microscope.
How to Prevent and Cope With Ringworm Infections?
Please be careful if you fall in one of the following categories: Overweight, obese, diabetic, hot and humid climate or working conditions (athletes, sportspersons, laundry workers, agriculture, animal handling, gardening, working near furnaces, swimming pool staff, sewer workers, cooking and dishwashing), treatment with medication that alters the normal flora of body like antibiotics or steroids, AIDS, malignancy, malnutrition.
If you are obese or overweight, you need to consider weight control seriously. If you are on medication that lowers body resistance, please consult your treating physician. In some occupational cases where the infections are recurrent, it may be advisable to change the profession.
One needs to teach the habits of thorough cleaning and drying of infection-prone areas during and after every bath and immersion of the part in water. Pay more attention to areas of the body that are at risk of fungal infection and treat the same.
The undergarments that one wears should be well-fitting but not too tight. These should allow ventilation of air. If the said areas tend to sweat profusely, one needs to dry the area several times a day with a gauze piece or absorbent tissue paper. If required, a hairdryer or a fan can be employed until the area becomes dry while you get ready after the bath.
Abstain from heavy exercise or strenuous work to minimize sweating.
Stay and work in a well-ventilated area. You can keep the kitchen windows open while working or use an exhaust fan if local conditions permit the same.
Break your jogging and intense physical activities into short spells.
Stay away from foods and drinks that promote profuse sweating (beverages, spices), working outdoors during midday, as far as possible.
Use a chair that permits sweat evaporation from the areas where sweat tends to pool on sitting (for example, on the buttocks and the back). Cane or wooden chairs are better than rexine or leather chairs.
On sitting, one can position the legs slightly apart from the groin area downwards rather than sitting cross-legged.
If you get the infection, do not take medicines on your own. Some of the preparations advertised on the mass media may do more harm than good.
Take regular medication as prescribed by your attending physician. If you are already on medication, all the measures listed above will help you after consulting your physician to enhance the effect of treatment. Please do not use powders or other agents unless specifically recommended. It is possible to be misled by the visible improvement even while the infection is still active in deeper layers of the skin.
The affected person may need prescription-strength antifungal medications such as a lotion, cream, or ointment to be applied on the affected skin. If your infection is particularly severe or extensive, the doctor might prescribe antifungal pills.
Ringworm infection is a contagious infection caused by fungal species and affects various body parts with unique features. This condition is manageable by taking antifungal medications prescribed by the doctor. There is so much that you can do yourself to prevent this infection by following the preventive measures mentioned. Thus, Ringworm infections are both preventable and curable by following the general steps given above.
Frequently Asked Questions