Ringworm is a fungal infection of the skin. Despite its name, it has nothing at all to do with worms. Fungal infection may appear on the skin, nails, hands, feet, or scalp. Both adults and children can be affected, but it occurs most commonly in children. Fungal infection of the feet is sometimes called athlete’s foot .
Ringworm is caused by microscopic skin fungi that live on the outer layer of the skin. You can get ringworm from direct skin-to-skin contact with infected people or pets. It is also transmitted by sharing hats and personal hair grooming lis (eg, hairbrushes, combs), and through contact with locker room floors, shower stalls, seats, or clothing used by an infected person.
Ringworm is a fungal infection of the skin. Despite its name, it has nothing at all to do with worms. Fungal infection may appear on the skin, nails, hands, feet, or scalp. Both adults and children can be affected, but it occurs most commonly in children. Fungal infection of the feet is sometimes called
Ringworm Rash © 2011 Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history and examine your skin. Ringworm is often easily diagnosed by appearance. However, symptoms may be similar to other conditions. A sample of the affected area may be taken for testing.
The following steps may prevent ringworm:
- Avoid contact with any infected person, animal, surface, or object.
- Do not share personal hair grooming lis, clothing, or shoes.
- Wear sandals in locker room areas.
- Avoid scratching during infection, to prevent ringworm from spreading to other areas.
- Wear clothing that minimizes sweating and moisture build-up.
- Wear breathable shoes or sandals.
- Keep moisture-prone areas of the body clean and dry.
A risk factor is something that increases your chance of getting a disease or condition. Risk factors for developing ringworm include:
- Contact with surfaces (eg, seat backs, shower stalls), clothing, or personal grooming lis used by an infected person
- Skin-to-skin contact with an infected person or pet
- Age: 12 or younger—ringworm of the scalp rarely occurs in children after puberty or in adults
- Spending time in nurseries, schools, daycare centers, or locker rooms
When ringworm appears on the skin, it makes circular, reddish patches with raised borders. Eventually, the patches grow larger, and the centers of the patches turn clear, giving a ring-like appearance.
Symptoms of ringworm on other parts of the body vary, for example:
—begins with small bumps on the head that grow larger and form a circular pattern
- Hair may become brittle and break, forming scaly, hairless patches.
—affects the palms and spaces between the fingers
or athlete's foot—may cause scaling between the toes, or thickening and scaling on the heels or soles
—causes fingernails and toenails to become yellow, thick, and crumbly
or jock itch—causes a chafed, reddish, itchy, sometimes painful rash in the groin
—produces flat, scaly, round spots on the skin
—produces red, scaly patches on the face
Ringworm symptoms on the body usually appear 4-10 days after exposure. Scalp symptoms will appear in 10-14 days.
Treatment can be oral (taken by mouth) or topical (applied to skin):