"Ringworm" is the common name for the skin infection caused by a special group of fungi; it is not caused by a worm at all. The fungi feed upon the dead cells of skin and hair causing, in people, a classic round, red lesion with a ring of scale around the edges and normal recovering skin in the center.
How is ringworm transmitted?
Ringworm spreads from person to person by touch. When someone with ringworm touches or scratches the rash, the fungus sticks to the fingers or gets under the fingernails. The fungus is then spread when that person touches someone else. Ringworm of the scalp can also spread if combs and hairbrushes are shared.
Despite its name, ringworm infection does not involve worms. The name arose because of the ring-shaped skin patches created by the infection.
Athlete's foot (tinea pedis) is a common fungal infection that usually appears during warm weather.
Nail ringworm is an infection of the nail most often caused by Trichophyton.
What does the ringworm rash look like?
A small area of infected skin tends to spread outwards. It typically develops into a circular, red, inflamed patch of skin. The outer edge is more inflamed and scaly than the paler centre. So, it often looks like a ring that becomes gradually larger. Sometimes only one patch of infection occurs. Sometimes several patches occur over the body, particularly if you catch the infection from handling an infected animal.
What causes ringworm?
It is usually transmitted through contact with animals such as dogs, cats, calves, hamsters, and guinea pigs. Most mammals have at least one type of fungus, and usually the animal and fungus live in peaceful coexistence without the animal ever showing any symptoms. This does not mean
that the fungus cannot be transmitted to humans.
What are the sources of skin fungi?
Some fungi live only on human skin, hair, or nails. Others live on animals and only visit humans sometimes. Still others live in the soil. It is often difficult or impossible to identify the source of a particular person's skin fungus.
If ringworm of the body covers a large area, is severe or doesn't respond to over-the-counter medicine, you may need a prescription-strength topical or oral medication. These
· Econazole (Spectazole)
· Miconazole (Monistat-Derm)
· Itraconazole (Sporanox)
· Fluconazole (Diflucan)
· Terbinafine (Lamisil)
· Ketoconazole (Nizoral)
Prevention: Although ringworm is difficult to prevent, preventitive and precautionary measures should be taken to reduce the risk of spreading the fungi spores to family
members, classmates and others. These prevention and precaution tips include:
· Inform other family members.
· Wash clothing and bedding that might be infected in hot, soapy water.
· Tell your child to wash their hands several times a day.
· Tell you child not to share personal items with classmates.
How do you control ringworm?
Seek medical advice to confirm diagnosis and receive appropriate treatment. Exclude infected persons from communal swimming and bathing facilities until appropriate treatment
Maintain hygiene by regular, thorough bathing with soap and water and special attention to drying moist areas.
· Do not share clothing or personal linen.
· Frequently launder clothing and linen in hot water.