Ringworm of the skin is a medical condition caused by fungal infection. This condition is also known as dermatophytosis, and may also affect pets such as cats, and domesticated animals such as sheep and cattle. Even though someone may think worms cause ringworm, this is not true. The term ringworm refers to the specific shape of the rash that appears in a pattern shaped like a ring. Ringworm may affect the whole skin or appear locally, in particular parts of the body. For example, if ringworm affects the groin area, it is known as the jock itch.
Signs and symptoms of ringworm
Ringworm appears as a skin rash, which is usually very itchy. In many cases, the rash has a shape of a ring, but sometimes this may not be the case. However, in every fungal infection ringworm appears as red and itchy rash. It may affect the skin, thighs or buttocks, or even hands. Typically, the skin will change in appearance and may become very dry, thick and scaly.
Causes of ringworm
Different types of fungi cause ringworm. These fungi live on the surface of the skin, and occupy many surfaces from our environment. However, warm, moist and dark places are suitable for their overgrowth. Fungi are usually present in locker rooms, at swimming pools and in delicate skin folds. A person may get ringworm infection from another infected person or animal, especially if they are sharing clothes and towels.
Prevention of ringworm
Ringworm may spread easily but this annoying infection is also relatively easy to prevent. All that one needs to prevent fungal infection is just a little bit understanding and a special care in daily routines.
The most important thing is not to share any clothes, sports equipment, towels or sheets with others. Clothes should always be washed in hot water with soap. If you suspect that you have been exposed to fungi, use special anti-fungal soap.
Another good suggestion is to wear slippers or flip-flops in locker rooms and public pools. One should also always shower and shampoo after any sport activity.
Wearing tight or synthetic clothes can also increase the risk of fungal infection. Therefore, it is recommended to wear loose fitting cotton clothes and change socks and underwear daily.
The skin should always be clean and dry. If a person has athlete's foot, it is important to pay special attention while dressing. One should first put socks before putting the underwear on, to avoid spreading of the fungi.