Ring Worm - Causes, Symptoms and Treatment Options

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What is ring worm? Is it caused by worms? Does it spread through contact? What are the causes of ringworm? What are the symptoms of ringworm? What are the treatment options for ringworm? Are anti fungal creams effective in curing ringworm? Should an infec

The medical term for ringworm is dermatophytosis. Ringworm is not caused due to worm bites. It has nothing to do with worms. It is caused due to fungal infections. The infection appears in the form of rings and hence the name. This skin disease is common to humans, pets and domestic animals. Ringworm infections occur in parts of the body that is moist. It spreads easily. The common areas of infection are groin, feet and scalp. Ringworm is usually treated with anti fungal creams. However if it affects the scalp, the doctor should be consulted for treatment.

Causes of ringworm

Ringworm is caused when fungi known as dermatophytes live in moist areas of skin. The fungi live on keratin, a tissue which is found in hair, nails and skin. The infection is spread easily through contact. Infected people help to spread the disease by sharing things like towels, cloths, goods and other items.    The four ways through which ringworm is spread are human contact, animal contact, object (of infected person) contact and soil contact. Children are more prone to ringworm. Older people can remain carriers even if they do not get the infection. People who suffer from immune diseases, who take steroids, arteries hardening, obese, blood circulation problems and history of fungal infections are more prone to ringworm.

Symptoms of ringworm

Ringworm can appear in scalp, nails, body, feet and groin. The symptoms can differ depending on the area.


  • Ring
  • Itchy skin
  • Red rashes
  • Pus inside rings


  • Scalp itch
  • Loss of hair in patches
  • Scaling of skin in scalp
  • Pus in infected area
  • Tendency to form crusts


  • Breaking of nails
  • Change in color
  • Hardening of nails
  • Skin irritation around nails  


  • Rashes near toes
  • Itchiness
  • Inflammation
  • Pus
  • Skin cracks with scales
  • Pain and irritation


  • Red rashes
  • Pus
  • Itchiness
  • Irritation
  • Scaling of skin

Diagnosis of ringworm

Ringworm is diagnosed with the help of physical examinations, skin culture, biopsy and KOH.

Treatment of ringworm

Creams containing anti fungal such as clotrimazole, miconazole, ketoconazole, terbinafine and tolnaftate can be applied at least twice every day to treat the infection. People who suffer from ringworm that has spread all over the body including the scalp have to consult a doctor instead of buying over the counter medicines or creams. Ringworm in nails can be cured by applying medicinal nail polish. Medicated shampoos help to reduce the infection to a certain extent. Antifungal tablets help cure ringworm but have side effects like sickness, rashes, headaches, inability to digest food properly and diarrhea.

Prevention of ringworm

Preventive measures have to be taken to stop the spreading of this infection. The objects used by an infected person have to be kept away and cleaned regularly. Scratching the infected area can help spread the disease because the flakes will fall down. The objects used by an infected person should not be used by others. Pets which are infected should be treated without fail.

 Study material: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0002411/

Image source: Wikipedia



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