Ringworm, also known as Tinea is a contagious fungal infection of the skin. Contrary to its name, ringworm is not caused by a worm. more...
Ringworm is very common, especially among children, and may be spread by skin-to-skin contact, as well as via contact with contaminated items such as hairbrushes. Ringworm spreads readily, as those infected are contagious even before they show symptoms of the disease. Humans can contract ringworm from animals; cats and dogs are often carriers. It should be noted that any contact sports such as wrestling has a risk of contracting the fungal infection through skin-to-skin contact.
A number of species of fungi called dermatophytes cause ringworm. Members of the genera Trichophyton and Microsporum are the most common causative agents. These fungi attack various parts of the body and lead to the following conditions:
- Tinea corporis affects the arms, legs, and trunk
- Tinea capitis affects the scalp
- Tinea cruris (jock itch) affects the groin area
- Tinea pedis (athlete's foot) affects the feet
- Tinea unguium affects the fingernails and toenails
- Tinea versicolor
Symptoms and diagnosis
The most well known sign of ringworm is the appearance of one or more red raised itchy patches with defined edges. These patches are often lighter in the center, taking on the appearance of a ring. If the infected area involves the scalp or beard area, then bald patches may become evident. If the nails are affected, they may thicken, discolor, and finally crumble.
Doctors can diagnose ringworm on sight, or they may take a skin scraping. This is examined under a microscope, or put on an agar plate in a microbiology laboratory and allowed to grow. Some of the fungi fluoresce under a black light examination.
Topical antifungal drugs containing miconazole and clotrimazole, available by perscription or over the counter, are used to clear up the infection.
Read more at Wikipedia.org