(Tinea Infection; Dermatophyte Infection)
DefinitionRingworm is a fungal infection of the skin. Despite its name, it has nothing at all to do with worms. The fungal infection may appear on the skin, nails, hands, feet, or scalp.
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CausesRingworm is caused by microscopic skin fungi that live on the outer layer of the skin. You can get ringworm from direct skin-to-skin contact with infected people or pets. It is also transmitted by sharing hats and personal hair grooming items, and through contact with locker room floors, shower stalls, seats, or clothing used by an infected person.
Risk FactorsRingworm is more common in children 12 years of age or younger. Factors that may increase your risk of developing ringworm include:
- Contact with surfaces, clothing, or personal grooming items used by an infected person
- Skin-to-skin contact with an infected person or pet
- Spending time in nurseries, schools, daycare centers, or locker rooms
SymptomsWhen ringworm appears on the skin, it makes circular, reddish patches with raised borders. Eventually, the patches grow larger, and the centers of the patches turn clear, giving a ring-like appearance.Symptoms of ringworm on other parts of the body vary, for example:
- Scalp, tinea capitis —begins with small bumps on the head that grow larger and form a circular pattern
- Hair may become brittle and break, forming scaly, hairless patches.
- Hands, tinea manus—affects the palms and spaces between the fingers
- Feet, tinea pedis or athlete's foot—may cause scaling between the toes, or thickening and scaling on the heels or soles
- Nails, tinea unguium —causes fingernails and toenails to become yellow, thick, and crumbly
- Groin, tinea cruris or jock itch—causes a chafed, reddish, itchy, sometimes painful rash in the groin
- Body, tinea corporis—produces flat, scaly, round spots on the skin
- Face, tinea faciei—produces red, scaly patches on the face
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