Ringworm (Tinea corporis) is an infectious skin condition caused by a fungus. It is commonly known as athlete’s foot (when the fungus infects the feet) or jock itch (when the infection occurs on the groin area). Men are more commonly affected than women.
What Causes Ringworm?
Ringworm is inappropriately named as the infection is not caused by a worm, rather a fungus. The fungi that cause ringworm grow best in warm, moist areas found in locker rooms, swimming pools and the folds of skin. It is contagious and spreads via skin-to-skin contact with either an animal or person that has the infection. Towels, clothing or sporting gear can also spread ringworm.
The most common symptom of a ringworm infection is a rash that itches. While the rash often appears as a ring, this isn’t always the case.
Jock itch affects the skin folds of the groin and it can spread to the inner thighs or buttocks. A ringworm infection on the hands appears like athlete’s foot, leaving the skin of the palm to appear thick, dry and scaly. Skin between the fingers may be moist with open sores.
In most cases, ringworm can be treated with over the counter topical anti fungal creams or sprays such as Micatin. While relief is often fast, treatment should be continued for the full treatment period to ensure eradication of the fungus. In this way, re-infection is less likely. Infections that don’t respond to topical creams may require treatment with oral prescription medications.
Ringworm is best avoided by keeping skin dry. Dry skin thoroughly after swimming or bathing. Try not to share personal items with others.
Ringworm infections left untreated can become infected and may require treatment with antibiotics.