Ringworm or dermatophytosis is a condition caused by a fungal infection that appears on the skin of humans, domesticated animals and pets. The fungi feeds on keratin found in the nails, skin, hair and thrives in warm, moist conditions. Usually it lives in the outer dead layer of keratin proteins and rarely invades deeper tissue. Almost twenty percent of the population suffers from dermatophytoses, especially athletes.
Some of the most common fungi that cause ringworm are richophyton tonsurans, Trichophyton rubrum and Epidermophyton floccosum. The source cannot be identified but they can be spread from person to person, from animal to person and contacted even from the soil. The most common places it appears are in the groins (jock itch) and between the toes (athlete’s foot), that is why many say that you can catch it from locker rooms, swimming pools and showers. You can also catch ringworm from unwashed clothing and personal objects like combs. Other areas it can affect are the nails, feet – tinea pedis, scalp – tinea capitis, beard – tinea barbae and body – tinea corporis.
Infected nails are discolored and thick. An infected scalp results in bald ares with sharply-defined edges. Ringworm patches are red, scaly, itch and can ooze or blister. The red patched are darker on the outside and have normal skin color in the center, therefore the name ringworm.
Treatment for ringworm
To cure dermatophytosis, doctors prescibe an antifungal treatment with topical agents. The most common treatment for ringworm involves tolnaftate, terbinafine, miconazole, clotrimazole and ketoconazole administered twice a day for one or two weeks. It is recommended to maintain good hygiene and not to touch the lesions so the infection doesn’t spread.
Scalp ringworm is treated with antifungal shampoo, antifungal tables like terbinafine and terbinafine. Terbinafine is highly effective but it can have side effects like nausea, rashes and indigestion. Griseofulvin is a spray that prevents the fungy from growing. Side effects like nausea, vomiting and headache improve as the body gets used to it. Antifungal shampoos like ketoconazole and selenium sulphide can be used twice a week for the first two weeks of treatment, but they only help to prevent the infection from spreading.
Treatment for ringworm located on the body consists of a combination of gel, spray and antifungal cream applied to the affected areas for two weeks. The products must be put on the rash and one inch around it. Griseofulvin and terbinafine tablets can be administered if symptoms do not improve, as well as intraconazole.