Have you ever known anyone who had ringworm? You might even have had it yourself. It’s a common skin condition that can affect anyone of any age, though children get it most often. Animals also sometimes develop ringworm. Considering how many people get it, it’s surprising that most people don’t really know much about ringworm.
What is Ringworm?
Ringworm is a misnomer. Even though worm is in the name, no worms are involved in ringworm at all. This skin condition is named that because of the way it looks. In fact, ringworm is actually a skin fungus. The condition is contagious and can be spread from person to person or from animals to people.
The medical name for ringworm is tinea (which means “growing worm” in Latin) plus the name of the body part it affects. For instance, if you have ringworm on your body, it is technically called tinea corporis. If it is on your feet, it’s tinea pedis, or as it is more commonly known, athlete’s foot. If you get it in the groin area, it’s tinea cruris, or jock itch.
Many years ago, it was believed this condition was caused by a worm or parasite. We know now that ringworm is caused by a fungus, but the ringworm label stuck.
How Do You Get Ringworm?
There are a number of ways you can get ringworm. It’s highly contagious so it’s easy to contract from another person who has the condition. It can be from direct skin-to-skin contact or you can simply touch some of their belongings like a comb, clothing, or bed sheets.
Animals like cats and dogs or livestock like cows or hogs can carry the fungus and you can become infected from touching them. Fungi also live in the dirt so it is not unusual to contract the condition while digging in the garden or doing construction work.
Damp, moist conditions also encourage fungi to multiply rapidly. Sweating profusely, wearing damp bathing suits or tight, restrictive clothing and living in areas with hot, humid weather make people more vulnerable to fungal skin conditions.
Diagnosis and Treatment of Ringworm
Many times ringworm doesn’t require an official diagnosis because it is easy to recognize from its appearance. Other times it’s necessary to take skin scrapings and study them under a microscope to confirm the diagnosis.
Ringworm is usually treated topically with antifungal creams, though particularly stubborn cases may require oral treatments. There are also some effective home remedies that will resolve the problem.
Ringworm is just one of the common ailments caused by fungi. You may suffer from a yeast infection, nail fungus, candida, or other problems caused by fungi. It is nothing to be ashamed of and you should not let embarrassment keep you from seeking treatment.
About the Author: Dennis Allenbaugh is a health care professional who spent a lot of time playing sports in college (and subsequently treating a few ringworm infections). He encourages anyone interested in the various types of fungal infections visit YeastInfection.org to learn more about how fungal infections can impact the entire body.