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Ringworm: Treatment, symptoms, advice & help

About Ringworm

Ringworm or dermatophytosis is a superficial skin infections caused by dermatophytes a type of fungi.

Ringworm: Incidence, age and sex

Ringworm has an estimated global prevalence of 300 million. They are common in most adult people, with up to 20 percent of the population having one of these infections at any given moment.

Signs & symptoms of ringworm: Diagnosis

The fungi may be present without any symptoms. Clinical forms of cutaneous infection include tinea corporis (involvement of the body), tinea capitis (scalp involvement), tinea cruris (groin involvement), tinea pedis (involvement of the feet) and onychomycosis (nail involvement).Tinea corporis – The lesions are erythematous, annular and scaly, with a well – defined edge and often central clearing. Tinea cruris – Itchy erythematous plaques extend from the groin flexures on to the thighs. Tinea pedis (athlete’s foot) – An itchy rash between the toes, with peeling, fissuring and maceration. Nails become discoloured, thick, and even crumbled in onychomycosis

Diagnosis: In all cases of suspected dermatophyte infection, the diagnosis should be confirmed by skin scraping or nail clippings.

Causes and prevention of ringworm

The causative fungi belong to three genera (Microsporum, Trichophyton and Epidermophyton). They may originate from the soil, animals or be confined to human skin (anthropophilic). Fungi thrive in moist, warm areas, such as skin folds. Advice often given to prevent ringworm includes avoiding sharing clothing and towels, washing clothes in hot water with fungicidal soap after suspected exposure to ringworm ,avoiding walking barefoot and avoiding touching pets with bald spots as they are often carriers of the fungus.

Ringworm: Complications

The possible complications include secondary bacterial infections of the skin, side effects from medications and spread of ringworm to other areas

Ringworm: Treatment

Anti-fungal treatments include topical Miconazole, Terbinafine, Clotrimazole, Ketoconazole, or Tolnaftate applied twice daily until symptoms resolve - usually within one or two weeks. Topical treatments should then be continued for a further 7 days after resolution of visible symptoms to prevent recurrence In more severe cases or where there is scalp ringworm, systemic treatment with oral medications may be given. To prevent spreading the infection, lesions should not be touched, and good hygiene maintained with washing of hands and the body.