Ringworm infection is a fungal skin infection that is contagious in nature. This infection is caused by a group of fungal organisms called dermatophytes. Technically termed as tinea, ringworm infection can be of different types, that are classified according to the location of infection. In other words, ringworm can infect different parts of the body and are known in different names. Scalp ringworm is tinea capitis, ringworm of the feet is tinea pedis or athlete's foot, in case of groin, it is tinea cruris or jock itch. Ringworm may also infect the nails, arms, legs and trunk, palms, etc. Ringworm infection in pets is also very common.
What Causes Ringworm in Humans?
Basically, all forms of ringworm infections are caused by fungi. How these fungi get access to the human skin? Once they get access, they spread quickly and causes symptoms. Even though, the name ringworm is derived from the ring-shaped itchy patches caused by the condition, the symptoms may slightly vary with the different forms of infection. The ring-like patches are most commonly seen in tinea corporis, which affect the legs, arms and the trunk. In general, scaly and itchy patches are found commonly. While, some may develop oozing blisters (like, scalp ringworm and jock itch), others may cause crusting, cracking and flaking (as in case of tinea pedis) of the skin.
Whatever may be the type, ringworm is spread from the infected person or pets. The fungi that causes ringworm are usually found on the body of humans and animals. Even soil contain these fungi that can infect a person. It has been noted that the fungi causing ringworm of the feet and nails are found in humans only. What causes ringworm? The answer is direct or indirect contact of the skin with the fungus. These fungi comes into contact with humans through skin to skin contact with infected people or pets. Even sharing of personal items like, bed linen, clothes, comb, hat, footwear and towels, may lead to the spread of this condition.
Close contact with pets having ringworm is one of the reasons for contracting this skin condition. The infected animals drop hair with these fungi and contact with such hair may cause ringworm in humans. Working in soil with bare hands or feet is another cause for getting affected with ringworm. However, contracting ringworm from soil is very rare. Once the fungi come into contact with human skin, the symptoms will start to appear within 10 to 14 days. Some people may not develop ringworm symptoms, as they are carriers, but, they can definitely spread this condition.
Some people are more prone to this condition and this include people with low immunity, like, those with HIV, diabetes, cancer, etc. Even pregnant women and kids are prone to this skin condition. It is always better to prevent getting affected with ringworm. If affected, get the condition diagnosed and treated at the earliest. The most commonly used treatment method is the use of anti fungal for ringworm. In some cases, oral anti fungal drugs may also be prescribed.