A type of dermatophyte infection, ringworms when simply put, is a fungal infection of the skin. The name is a misnomer as it is not a worm and the infection appears in the shape of a ring. The infection can affect humans and animals both. Primarily it appears on the scalp, groin, nails, feet, and similar areas.
in this article, we are going to share in detail the symptoms, reasons, diagnosis and treatment of the condition.
Symptoms of Ringworm
The symptoms of ringworm vary depending on the place of location. But you can have the following general symptoms to recognize whether you are infected:
- Redness, itchy and scaly skin patches that are slightly raised.
- Some patches even develop blisters and pustules.
- Often a ring shape appears that is slightly redder to the core.
- The edge of the patch will be raised and defined.
In case you are suffering from the condition in your nails, they are likely to become thicker and discoloured and even develop cracks. In case it happens in the scalp, the patient experience hair falls and bald patches around the infected area.
Causes of Ringworm
Ringworm infection is caused by three different types of fungi that live as spores in soils. When humans and animals come in contact with these spores in the soil, they develop an infection. It spreads from contact as well and is specifically witnessed among children.
- Ringworm in the scalp starts as isolated patches that are itchy and scaly.
- On the body, the fungal infection looks like a scaly ring of skin.
- Ringworm infection of the groin is also known as jock itch and it is common among adolescent boys and men.
- Athlete’s foot is the infection of feet and caused when you walk barefooted especially in public areas.
Diagnosis of Ringworm
Usually, the diagnosis of ringworm is done by examining the affected area using the black light. It usually glows under the light depending on the type of fungus that is infecting the person. Tests like skin biopsy or fungal culture are recommended to diagnose the presence of the fungus.
Patients can also get the KOH exam where the doctor scrapes a part of the infected skin and examine it on a slide under a microscope.
Ringworm Treatment and home remedies
Ringworm can be treated easily using prescribed ointments and gels. In case it infects the scalp, oral medication is recommended. There are over-the-counter medications as well which can be used depending on the severity of the infection. The patient will have to wear loose and cotton clothes till they are cured, thoroughly maintain personal hygiene and keep the infected area clean and dry.
There are home remedies as well which you can try. This includes apple cider vinegar, coconut oil, and turmeric which are known for their anti-fungal properties.
Spreading of Ringworms
Ringworm is quite contagious though it is frequently witnessed among children. It can easily spread even from animals to humans. Usually, dogs and cats get infected easily by the fungus and hence pet-owners have more chances of contracting the infection.
A few healthy habits can keep ringworm infection at bay:
- Wash your hands thoroughly once you pet a dog or a cat.
- Avoid touching anyone infected with ringworm.
- Maintain basic hygiene and cleanliness.
- Do not walk barefooted in common areas.
- Personal items like hairbrushes, clothes etc. should not be shared.
With the proper medication, the ringworm can be cured in 2 to 4 weeks, depending on the severity. In short, ringworm is contagious but treatable. In case you are infected, it is prudent to seek medical advice immediately to prevent the further spread of the infection.