Senior Care
Login Register List Your Business Advertise   
Forum Health Care Options Relationships Grandparents Retirement Entertainment Money Contact Us


Ringworm - Treatment and Prevention
Written By : Bruce Kaler, MD 
Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)

Ringworm is one of the most common skin problems. Ironically it has little to do with rings and nothing to do with worms. The circular spreading rash, a common presentation, lead to the antiquated idea that it had something to do with a parasite (which it does not). The medical term which refers to a lot of common fungal skin infections is tinea derived from Latin for worm or larvae. Obviously that hasn't done much except add to the confusion. The origin of this condition is a group of microscopic fungi that that invade the skin causing a variety of rashes. These rashes are not always circular. They are easy to recognize when they are by the expanding red ring with clearing in the middle. However the rash can vary from small red bumps, splotches or patches accompanied by flaking scaling and more often than not itching. Although it prefers and flourishes in warm moist areas of the body it can occur on any area of the skin.

It can most commonly be found on the feet, groin, armpit, and under breasts where it tends to be warm and moist. It can also occur in somewhat open dry areas like the face, scalp, extremities and torso. The classic circular lesion tends to grow and expand while the central area of redness appears to clear. It usually is associated with intense burning or itching. Scratching too much can create and secondary bacterial infection. There are other conditions that mimic this but a ring-like lesion is fairly characteristic of a fungal infection. If the lesion occurs in the scalp hair loss in the center of the area is characteristic. In the area of a man's beard the hair may also break off and possibly develop a crusted area while retaining the overall circular appearance.

We have come to understand that some scalp dandruff is actually another type of low grade fungal infection that causes the chronic flaking. Most people are familiar with athlete's foot which is merely fungal infection in a typically warm moist area. It usually results in breakdown of the skin with cracking, flaking, redness, itching and some times small blisters. In some parts of the skin it will appear as a broad, red itching splotch without cracks, or any circular shape. Fungal infection of the nail turns it yellow to dark brown in color, thickened and can create deformity of the nail contours. So ringworm is common, but there are many different appearances to fungal skin infections.

Fungal infections, generally known as dermatophytes, are highly contagious and can be spread multiple ways. However it does require direct contact with an infected person, animal, object or even soil. They do thrive in warm moist areas but can establish a presence on any body part. Diagnosis is usually by the characteristic appearance. However a health care provider may do a painless scraping of infected skin for viewing under a microscope or culture in the lab. There are several antifungal products available as topical creams at the pharmacy without a prescription. Clotrimazole (Lotrimin), miconazole (Monistat-Derm), ketoconazole( Nizoral) and terbinafine (Lamisil) are a few of the broader spectrum choices. These can be very effective with proper use. For more severe cases oral Lamisil tablets or another drug may be necessary by prescription to clear the condition completely. Over the counter products are not effective against fungal involvement of the nails.

Preventing fungal infections entirely is a challenge. But a thoughtful common sense approach can minimize your risk.

1. Don't share clothing, sports gear, towels, or sheets. 
2. Wear slippers in locker rooms and public pool & bathing areas. 
3. Shower after any sport that includes skin-to-skin contact. 
4. Wear loose-fitting cotton clothing. 
5. Change your socks and underwear at least once a day. 
6. Keep skin clean and dry. Dry yourself completely after showing. 
7. Take your pet to the vet if it has a rash or patches of missing hair. It could be a sign of a fungal infection.

With little effort and expense, being a good observer will keep you out of trouble. Should you develop a rash, consult someone early to be sure what you have. Early recognition treatment can be easy and even inexpensive.

  About Author
  More from Bruce Kaler, MD
Sleep Apnea Risks and Reprieve
Health : Sleep Disorders
I Spy Melanoma?
Health : Cancer
Neck Injuries
Health : Health A-Z : Other
View More

Popular Articles
Redefine Yourself for Retirement How to Avoid Ruining Retirement Living at Home With Dementia Misunderstanding Home Care
If you're like most folks, you have your doubts about retiring. On one hand you may be elated. On the other hand, you may be a bit frustrated because you have no idea what... Wealth seems to be everyone's dream; the ability to relax a little more, to not stress so much about finances and to enjoy the "good life." So often it is believed that wealth... For adult children the recognition of dementia can either be a slow process or it can be "WOW! Things have changed!" This coupled with honoring the loved ones wishes about staying at home can... There is so much misunderstanding about homecare that I want to help clarify the misunderstandings. Many refer to homecare as home health or just homecare without ever...

Read More>>>   Read More>>>   Read More>>>   Read More>>> allows the elderly to find local senior care services including home care agency, assisted living facility, retirement community, adult day care, hospice, elder law attorney, funeral homes, area agency on aging and more. Read senior care articles about medical alarms, senior lifestyle and care options.