Ringworm is a common non-medical term that describes a fungal infection of the skin. There has never been any association with "worms" infecting the skin, but the rash can commonly occur in a round or 'ring' pattern when it occurs on many areas of the body. The most common cause of ring worm on the general body is an infection transmitted from an animal, most commonly a newly adopted pet (cat or dog) or farm animal. Ringworm can also be transmitted from the soil, person to person or from fomites (shower-room floors, combs, brushes, and caps/hats) but much more rarely. Ringworm on the body is know by the medical term "tinea corporis". Fungal infections on other parts of the body have common and medical names such as:
athletes foot = tinea pedis
jock itch = tinea cruris
scalp ringworm = tinea capitis
nail fungus = tinea unguium or onychomycosis
Ringworm is a skin infection
caused by fungus that can affect the scalp,
skin, fingers, toenails, or feet..
The fungi that cause skin infection of this type can be divided into three groups according to their favourite hosts or sources: geophile (from soil sources), zoophile (from animals) and anthropophile (from humans). The fungi that are usually responsible for ringworm are zoophile and transmitted primarily through contact with animals. The scientific term for ringworm is tinea corporis.
What causes ringworm?
It is usually transmitted through contact with animals such as dogs, cats, calves, hamsters, and guinea pigs. Most mammals have at least one type of fungus, and usually the animal and fungus live in peaceful coexistence without the animal ever showing any symptoms. This does not mean that the fungus cannot be transmitted to humans.
Children are particularly susceptible to ringworm and can pass it on easily to other children. Adults can also become infected. Farmers and people who work with animals that have fur are at increased risk.
What are the symptoms?
Typically, scaly red patches on the skin, the size of which varies from a few millimetres to several centimetres in diameter.
The patches are ring-shaped or oval and the edges are red and scaly. Inside the ring, the skin may be a bit scaly but looks normal in all other respects. The fungus spreads from the center of the patch but the activity is confined to the outer edge. The infected areas are usually itchy.
Treatment is based on the severity, extent, and location of the fungal infection. Sometimes all that is required is a topical medication, and at other times systemic treatment (medicines by mouth) maybe required. Dr. Crutchfield will carefully evaluate the situation and make the appropriate treatment recommendation for you.
For additional helpful information on this topic Dr. Crutchfield recommends these helpful links:
Net Doctor UK