Ringworm (Tinea Corporis)

Ringworm, also called tinea corporis, is a fungal infection of the skin that usually results in a ring-shaped pink scaly patch that enlarges.

Causes & Incidence

Ringworm is a common fungal skin infection. It is not caused by a worm. The fungus that causes ringworm lives off the dead skin cells.

Risk Factors

Anyone can become affected by ringworm, although the following are known risk factors:

Living in a warm, moist climate
One who sweats excessively
Living in crowded conditions
One who participates in contact sports, including football, wrestling, and rugby
Close contact with an infected person or animal
Sharing clothing, bedding, or towels with a person infected with ringworm
Wearing tight, restrictive clothing
Those with a weakened immune system

Symptoms

Most commonly, one develops a red, round patch with some scale. Often, the area itches. The red area expands and clears in the middle, forming a ring-shaped lesion. It is not uncommon to have more than one ring.

Tests

Most often, the diagnosis is made by your healthcare provider by simple examination (looking at the skin) and asking some questions. Additional testing is rarely needed, but may include one or more of the following:

A KOH (potassium hydroxide) examination
putting some of the scale or affected hairs on a slide, staining it with a special stain, and examining it under the microscope.
A fungal culture
putting some of the scale or affected hairs on a plate or in a glass jar containing agar, a nutrient-rich gel that allows for the growth and identification of fungus
A skin biopsy
The skin is anesthetized using a tiny needle. A small piece of skin is taken and sent to the lab for evaluation

Treatment

Topical anti-fungal medication (creams, sprays, shampoos, or gels) are available without a prescription (over-the-counter) and with a prescription and include.

Terbinifine (Lamisil™)
Econazole (Specatzole™)
Ketoconazole (Nizoral™)

Oral anti-fungal medications (pills, solutions, or capsules) are used in severe cases and include:

Itraconazole (Sporonox™)
Terbinifine (Lamisil™)
Griseofulvin

Robert S. Bader, M.D., Dermatologist

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