Ringworm in humans, also known as dermatophytosis, is one of the most common superficial fungal infections. In recent years, human infections from this fungi (dermatophytes) have increased substantially. The number has been further elevated due to the rising number of patients with immunocompromised conditions like those with cancer, diabetes, or AIDS. Dermatophytes also infect animals and is one of the leading causes of skin problems in domestic animals like cats and dogs.
Ringworm is caused by fungi from three genera: Microsporum, Trichophyton, and Epidermophyton, and the dermatophytes are broken down into three ecological groups: anthropophilic (usually associated with humans, but some can infect animals), zoophilic (commonly associated with animals), and geophilic (located in the soil). Contrary to popular belief, not all ringworm infections give perfectly circular marks on your skin. Instead, ringworm in humans presents itself in many different forms and can be located all over the body. Here is a list of the most common types of ringworm in humans:
Tinea Capitis is scalp ringworm and is the most common ringworm infection in children. Scalp ringworm usually causes the infected area to scale and may involve temporary hair loss.
Tinea Corporis is ringworm on the arms and legs. Normally patients with this condition have a ring-like patch or plaque with an advancing, elevated, scaling border and a central clearing.
Tinea Pedis is ringworm on the feet, otherwise known as Athlete’s Foot. The biggest factor in the infection and growth of tinea pedis is the exposure to moist environments and maceration of the skin. Usually this type of ringworm appears as a white macerated area, but some types of dermatophytes can cause a more dry scaling process.
Tinea Cruris is ringworm on the groin, otherwise known as Jock Itch. This type of ringworm commonly infects adolescent and young adult men. Although this type of ringworm presents in many ways, the border usually contains pustules or vesicles, while the background rash is red in color.
Tinea Unguium is ringworm on the fingernails or toenails. Tinea unguinum is a very common cause of nail dystrophy and may be brought about by tinea pedis, improperly fitting shoes, and diabetes.
Fungal infections of the skin can be split up into two groups, the superficial and deep types. The deep fungal infections are very serious problems and can form ulcers and even cause death. Thankfully, ringworm is part of the superficial class and is not as severe. Regardless, ringworm has caused many people to suffer physically and emotionally. Therefore, like many other infections, it is best to act quickly to minimize potential long-term damage the infection may cause.
The fungi cause a parasitic infection which feeds on keratin, which can be found on the outer layer of skin, hair and nails. This parasitic infection flourishes in warm and damp areas, which is why ringworm in humans is so common in areas like the scalp, foot, and groin regions.
Thankfully, much research has gone into medications for ringworm, and there are cures for ringworm available. In fact, many over the counter treatments for ringworm are sufficient to clear up an outbreak. Cures for ringworm are generally prescribed as a topical antifungal agent. There are a few products that have been proven to be effective time and time again, and can be found at the “how to get rid of ringworm” page.