The word “ringworm” can be quite misleading. Many people mistakenly believe that this skin condition is caused by an actual worm, like parasites that inhabit the intestines, but the fact is, it is a fungus. It is called that because of its circular, almost elegant shape.
This skin infection is the relatively common and it is not considered dangerous. However, like in any disease, it is better to diagnose it early and to treat it appropriately.
The fungus that causes ringworm can appear anywhere on the body with keratinized skin. This, fortunately, excludes mucous membranes. It appears as a single circular patch or multiple patches, and sometimes one patch may look as if it is dividing into several smaller patches.
The patches are always round and red. The redness seems to subside towards the center of the patch, and the round edges are slightly elevated, dry and flaky.
As the fungus progresses, the patch expands, and smaller patches may form inside it. This condition is highly contagious, so it is recommended to watch out for new patches on other parts of the body.
Ringworm can be very itchy, and itchiness can be a tell-tale sign of ringworm in hard-to-reach places, like scalp. If it appears on the scalp, ringworm can cause localized hair loss.
Treatment for ringwormIf a person has a skin condition that looks like ringworm, the best thing to do is to see a doctor to confirm the suspicions. The doctor may do tests that will determine with certainty that the infection is in fact fungal, and he or she will then prescribe appropriate therapy.
The treatment usually consists of topical antifungal ointments. The problem with ringworm is that there are strains today that are resistant to many medications, so it may take a while to find an effective drug. Also, the treatment may last for a while.
The most commonly used ringworm topical medications are Lotrimin, Tinactin and Nizoral. They come in different forms, like powder, spray, ointment or cream.
As mentioned above, ringworm is very contagious. A person who has ringworm should protect others by not sharing personal items, especially towels, clothes, shoes, brushes and similar.
During the treatment period, it is important to take care of personal hygiene. Washing must be done daily, and towels should be changed regularly. The same goes for the clothes. Wearing the same clothes for two days in a row is not recommended for people who have ringworm.
It is also very important to avoid touching the affected parts of the skin, and if the contact cannot be avoided, the hands must be thoroughly washed afterwards. Also, when applying the ringworm medications, the hands should be clean.