Ringworm is a fungal infection, which is known as tinea in medical terms. Ringworm, as the name suggests, is the name derived from the pattern of the lesion that develops in this disease. There is a ring-like lesion at one or more sites over the body. The sites could be anywhere in the body, like the scalp, face, trunk, back, groins, loins, buttocks, legs, and in some cases, palms and soles too. Depending upon the sites, the ringworm infection is given some medical terms, like;
What are the Risk Factors for Ringworm Infection?
The age group for acquiring ringworm infection is not particular. Anyone from any age group can develop this infection if the basic requirements for the growth are provided by the site where the fungus gets lodged. People with low immunity due to diseases like HIV (human immunodeficiency disease), prolonged illness, etc., may acquire the infection more quickly than normal individuals.
Some professions are predisposed for acquiring and nurturing ringworm infection. Occupations involving heavy work leading to sweating like workers in a factory without proper ventilation, furnace workers, mine workers, professions involving prolonged sun exposure, jobs involving contact with dirt and dust such as sewage workers, swimming pool cleaners, etc., are prone to ringworm infections.
How Does One Get Ringworm Infection?
The primary modality of acquiring this infection is contact with the person already having ringworm; that is, it spreads mainly through direct contact. Other than infected humans, one can get the infection via contact with unhygienic animals like pet dogs, cats, cows, etc. Apart from the above, sharing improperly washed or sterilized clothing, combs, and personal care items of the infected person and acquiring infections from closed humid closets and swimming pool surfaces has also been known to cause the infection, though not as common.
The most important factors for the thriving of this fungal infection over the body surface are the unhygienic habits. Moist, humid, and unclean body surfaces provide the adequate and required components for the survival and growth of this fungus. Notably, the body folds like armpits, groins, loins, the sites of daily tight fastening of garments, etc., are the most common sites for ringworm infection.
What Are the Manifestations of Ringworm Infection?
When a person gets in contact with the infected body part of the infected person, the fungal particles from the lesion get lodged onto the superficial layer of the recipient’s skin. As mentioned previously, if the fungus gets the necessary requirements for its growth, then it starts growing in the superficial layer of the skin itself. The most important factor in the spread of this infection is scratching, which develops due to the local reaction between the fungus and the body’s immune system. Whenever an individual scratches the lesion, some of the fungal particles stick to the fingers or the instrument used for scratching and get dislodged to a new site where the person touches after that. Similar is the cause for the increase in the size of the small initial lesion.
The most common and also the most significant complaint of an infected person is the itching of the contaminated site. Itching is constant and is aggravated by dryness and seasonal changes (like in the winter season). The other concern is the appearance of the lesion.
The lesion of the ringworm looks very similar to a ring. It can be described as a lesion having a red granular border ring with mild red skin in the center. The size of the ring increases progressively due to constant scratching. Many times the lesion may look different from the typical description because of many factors like the intensity of scratching, use of improper medications for application, home treatment by scorching the lesion with heat or hot instrument, and other home treatments in some extreme cases.
How Is Ringworm Infection Treated?
Ringworm infection is completely treatable. The first and the most important step in the treatment of ringworm is the diagnosis, which should be made by an authorized and expert doctor. Typical presentations with the typical lesions are sometimes misdiagnosed due to a lack of expertise.
The second step is the treatment. Many people buy random medications and combination drugs directly from the medical stores or from quacks, which may lead to further worsening of the appearance of new complaints like burning and blackening of the lesions. Certain over-the-counter market products are available for ringworm, but using them without proper medical supervision may not cure the infection completely. So, in short, for the complete treatment of ringworm, consultation with an expert is a must.
Treatment for ringworm involveslocally applicable antifungal creams and lotions along with oral medications, which can be supported by other symptomatic treatment modalities for symptomatic relief. The duration of the treatment depends upon the choice of the medication by the doctor. Completion of the full course is a must for the complete cure of ringworm.
Relapse is the most common troublesome issue with ringworm infections, and the most common reason for the same is that the patient does not complete the course, thinking that symptomatic recovery implies infection has been eradicated. But, the fungus remains in the superficial layer of the skin, and the itching would have stopped due to a decrease in its number and not due to eradication. Soon after the aberrant stoppage of the treatment, the remaining fungal particles grow once again, and the relapse occurs. Hence, completion of the full course is a must in case of ringworm infection.
What Are the Precautions to Avoid Ringworm?
The most important thing to avoid getting fungal infections is the maintenance of personal hygiene.
Daily bathing with a proper lathering of soap applied to every part of the body cleanses the superficial layer of skin, wipes out the dust and fungal particles, if any, and thus prevents fungus from lodging and growing on it.
Other things to follow are to avoid using items and personal care products of the infected individuals.
Should wash the clothes daily, especially when involved in a profession where a person sweats a lot.
Regular cleaning and bathing of the pets and domestic animals will prevent them and the individual from getting ringworm infections.
To conclude, hygiene and cleanliness are the utmost important factors in the prevention of ringworm infection as we all know that prevention is better than cure.
Frequently Asked Questions