Overview of Ringworm

Ringworm of the body (tinea corporis) is a rash caused by a fungal infection. It’s usually a red, itchy, circular rash with clearer skin in the middle. Contrary to popular belief, ringworm does not involve the presence of actual worms and rather gets its name due to its appearance. Ringworm of the body is related to athlete’s foot (tinea pedis), jock itch (tinea cruris), and ringworm of the scalp (tinea capitis) and is often spread through direct skin-to-skin contact with an infected person or animal.

Mild ringworm often responds to antifungal medications that you apply to your skin. For more-severe infections, you may need to take antifungal pills for several weeks. If you suspect you have ringworm, reach out to the Certified Dermatology location that is most convenient for you and set up your initial appointment today.

The Symptoms of Ringworm

Some of the most common signs and symptoms of ringworm may include:

  • A scaly ring-shaped area, typically on the buttocks, trunk, arms, and legs
  • Persistent itching
  • A clear or scaly area inside the ring, perhaps with a scattering of red bumps
  • Slightly raised, expanding rings
  • A round, flat patch of itchy skin
  • Overlapping rings

When to See a Doctor

We recommend reaching out to the Certified Dermatology location that’s most convenient for you if you have a rash that doesn’t begin to improve within two weeks of using an over-the-counter antifungal product. You may need prescription medication, and the dedicated team at Certified Dermatology can help you find the relief you need from ringworm.

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What Causes Ringworm?

Ringworm is a contagious fungal infection caused by common mold-like parasites that live on the cells in the outer layer of your skin. 

It can be spread in the following ways:

  • Human to human: Ringworm often spreads by direct, skin-to-skin contact with an infected person.
  • Animal to human: You can contract ringworm by touching an animal with ringworm. Ringworm can spread while petting or grooming dogs or cats. It’s also fairly common in cows.
  • Object to human: Ringworm can spread through contact with objects or surfaces that an infected person or animal has recently touched or rubbed against, such as clothing, towels, bedding and linens, combs, and brushes.
  • Soil to humans: In rare cases, ringworm can be spread to humans by contact with infected soil. Infection would most likely occur only from prolonged contact with highly infected soil.

Risk Factors

You’re at higher risk of ringworm of the body if you:

  • Live in a warm climate
  • Have close contact with an infected person or animal
  • Share clothing, bedding, or towels with someone who has a fungal infection
  • Participate in sports that feature skin-to-skin contact, such as wrestling
  • Wear tight or restrictive clothing
  • Have a weak immune system

Potential Complications

A fungal infection rarely spreads below the surface of the skin to cause serious illness. But people with weak immune systems, such as those with HIV/AIDS, may find it difficult to get rid of the infection.

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Preventing Ringworm

Ringworm is difficult to prevent. The fungus that causes it is common, and the condition is contagious even before symptoms appear. If you suspect that you do have ringworm, Certified Dermatology can help you with the treatments and products that will help you find relief.

In the meantime, you can take these steps to reduce your risk of ringworm:

  • Educate yourself and others. Be aware of the risk of ringworm from infected people or pets. Tell your children about ringworm, what to watch for and how to avoid infection.
  • Keep clean. Wash your hands often. Keep shared areas clean, especially in schools, child care centers, gyms, and locker rooms. If you participate in contact sports, shower right after practice or a match, and keep your uniform and gear clean.
  • Stay cool and dry. Don’t wear thick clothing for long periods of time in warm, humid weather. Avoid excessive sweating.
  • Avoid infected animals. The infection often looks like a patch of skin where fur is missing. If you have pets or other animals, ask your veterinarian to check them for ringworm.
  • Don’t share personal items. Don’t let others use your clothing, towels, hairbrushes, sports gear, or other personal items. And don’t borrow such things.
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