Ringworm

Get Rid of Contagious Fungal Infections in Bryn Mawr, Newtown Square, Philadelphia, and the Main Line

Ringworm—also referred to as tinea corporis, tinea, dermatophytosis, and dermatophyte infection—is a rash caused by a fungal infection of the skin. It is contagious, very common, and given different names depending on which part of the body is affected. For example, tinea pedis/ athlete’s foot refers to a fungal infection of the feet, tinea capitis/ringworm refers to a fungal infection of the scalp, and tinea cruris /jock itch refers to a fungal infection in the groin. Despite what the word “worm” in the name implies, this condition is caused by a fungus, not a worm. Ringworm gets its name from the worm-like shape of the circular rash it causes on the skin. Patients who think they might have ringworm can talk to Bryn Mawr Skin & Cancer Institute to get a correct diagnosis and appropriate treatment for the fungus.

Find out how to prevent and treat skin conditions like ringworm at Bryn Mawr Skin & Cancer Institute. To schedule an appointment, please BOOK ONLINE, call 610.525.5028, or Contact Us.

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What Causes Ringworm?

Ringworm is caused by three types of fungi: trichophyton, microsporum, and epidermophyton. These mold-like organisms live as spores in the soil, and the infection is spread through contact with contaminated soil, humans or animals who have a fungal infection, or objects that have been contaminated.

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Ringworm?

The signs and symptoms of ringworm include the following:

  • Red, itchy, cracked, or scaly patches
  • Hair loss or hair breakage on the scalp
  • Blisters or pustules
  • A ring-shaped or circular rash with a red raised scaling border that may expand
  • Round, red, flat, scaly patches of skin that itch
  • Thick, cracked, or discolored nails with scaly material beneath the nails

Tinea can form on virtually any part of the body, including under fingernails and toenails. Symptoms typically develop between four and 14 days after a person has direct contact with the fungus.

What Are the Risk Factors for Ringworm?

Risk factors for the development of tinea include the following:

  • Living in a warm, humid climate or tropical area
  • Coming into contact with another person or an animal who has the infection
  • Sharing personal items—like clothing, bedding, razors, sport gear, hats, brushes, or towels—with someone who is infected
  • Participating in sports that include direct skin-to-skin contact, such as wrestling or football
  • Sweating profusely on the feet or body
  • Wearing tight-fitting or restrictive clothing, shoes, or underwear
  • Visiting public showers or locker rooms
  • Living in close quarters with others
  • Having close contact with animals
  • Being immunocompromised
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Treatment Options for Ringworm

This skin condition is unlikely to cause serious complications, however, it may be challenging to cure for patients who have weakened immune systems. These patients often require maintenance therapy with prescription medications.

Dermatologists at Bryn Mawr Skin & Cancer Institute typically diagnose ringworm with a skin exam. Further testing with a skin biopsy, fungal culture, or KOH exam might also be needed to confirm the presence of fungus. Over-the-counter topical antifungal products—such as creams, ointments, gels, and sprays—are usually helpful for ringworm, but if the symptoms don’t improve after two weeks of use, prescription medication may be needed.

A Bryn Mawr Skin & Cancer Institute dermatologist may also recommend lifestyle adjustments to help manage ringworm, such as disinfecting surroundings by washing bedding and clothing every day, keeping skin dry after bathing, wearing loose and breathable clothing, not sharing towels and sports equipment, and promptly treating patches of skin that are infected.

It may not be possible to prevent a common and highly contagious ringworm infection, but treatment is readily available, and patients can help to stop the spread by educating themselves and others.

Explore options for treating contagious fungal infections like ringworm near Bryn Mawr, Newtown Square, and Philadelphia. To schedule a Bryn Mawr Skin & Cancer Institute appointment, please BOOK ONLINE, call 610.525.5028, or Contact Us.

Book online