An alarming 20% of the American population has either been infected with ringworm or has been treated for it, at some point in time. So, what is this widespread condition that has affected and continues to affect nearly one-fifth the population in this country?
Quite a misnomer, ringworm isn’t a worm at all, as the name would have you believe. Also known as tinea or dermatophytosis, it is indeed a contagious skin infection that is brought on by fungi that live in the dead tissues of the skin. The fungi feed on keratin, which is a fibrous protein found in skin, hair, and nails. The reason this fungal infection is called ringworm is that the red rash brought on by the condition initially has a ring-like appearance. It can spread to different parts of the body like the feet, scalp, groin, and beard and affects both humans and animals alike.
Symptoms of Ringworm
Various indications signify a ringworm manifestation and the characteristics of the infection vary depending on the area of your body where it is localized. Make sure you consult with your physician first if you are suffering from any of the following skin conditions. Your doctor will take a small sample of the infected area and run tests on it, before confirming it is ringworm. If not treated in time, the infection gets worse and can result in open sores, a prolonged, painful stinging sensation and may even lead to scarring.
- Reddish, itchy, scaly, circular marks, small sores or bumps
- Elevated skin that graduates into a blister or blisters that begin to secrete a pus
- A rash that has a disc-like appearance with a reddish outer edge
- Multiple circular blotches
- Patches that have a raised edge and are well defined
- Nails become thick or change color
- Cracked nails, if not treated immediately may eventually disintegrate and fall off
- Loss of hair or thinning hair around the infected area
- Bald patches
Symptoms in Pets
Ringworm is more common in people and children who own pets. So be aware of any symptoms that your pet might exhibit like visible circular markings on the surface of their skin where they have lost fur. Or even areas on your pet’s body that has less fur with an underlying scaly appearance and a translucent or white area around the claws.
How Does Ringworm Spread?
The three main types of fungi that cause dermatophytosis are Trichophyton, Microsporum, and Epidermophyton. Being aware of how it spreads will help you take precautions to mitigate the risk of contracting the infection.
- Soil to human and animals – The fungus characteristically originates in soil and thrives in damp spots. When humans and animals come into direct contact with that soil, the fungus latches on.
- Human to human – An extremely contagious infection, ringworm can pass easily from one person to another with direct skin contact. Children are especially susceptible to catching the infection, as their personal hygiene might not always be the best.
- Animal to human – If you have touched, petted or stroked a dog or a cat that has ringworm, you will contract it. The fungi live on the skin and attach easily to the fur of animals. Ringworm is quite a common condition in cows as well.
- Object to human – Strong enough to survive on inanimate objects as well, the fungi can live on anything from linen and toiletries to accessories. So, if you touch an infected object, chances are you will get affected.
Types of Ringworm
Based on the area of the body where the infection occurs, ringworm goes by several monikers.
- Tinea Capitis – or ringworm of the scalp. Initially, it appears as tiny sores that over time evolve into scaly looking bald patches that cause itchiness. Children are most commonly affected by this type of ringworm.
- Tinea Corporis – or ringworm of the body. The infection materializes as patches, which have a ring-like appearance.
- Tinea Cruris – or jock itch. Common in men and adolescent boys, this condition affects the groin, inner thighs, and buttocks.
- Tinea Pedis – or commonly referred to as athlete’s foot, is an infection of the foot. The reason it is called athlete’s foot is because locker rooms, swimming pools, and showers are a breeding ground for the virus to spread.
- Tinea unguium – or onychomycosis, is an infection of the nails.
- Tinea barbae – or beard ringworm is an infection in the facial hair of men that may stem from them coming into contact with animals that carry the fungi.
Depending on the area of your body that is infected and the degree of infection, your doctor may prescribe both medication and a more healthful lifestyle to treat and prevent future infestations.
- Medication – One of the most common medicines for scalp ringworms are oral antifungal tablets. Your doctor might prescribe pills, depending on the type of fungi that causes the infection. They are over-the-counter medicines that are readily available at drug stores.
- Anti-fungal shampoos – Although shampoos do not cure the infection, they are an effective way of stemming the spread of it to other parts of the body and can even escalate the recovery time.
Skin and Groin Ringworm
- Anti-fungal creams – Many patients with mild infections are cured with the use of these lotions, which are available over-the-counter or online as well. However, you will need to follow the instructions carefully because directions for use differ between creams.
- Stronger topical medication – Depending on the severity of the infestation and the surface area it covers, your doctor might recommend a prescription-strength topical ointment if lighter medication is ineffective.
- Oral medication – Tablets are not entirely harmless. They come with side effects that include rash, stomach upsets or can even cause abnormal liver function. Even though most of these tablets are over-the-counter drugs, without consulting your general practitioner first, do not try and medicate yourself because of the harmful side effects that can arise.
One of the best ringworm treatments in the market today is Phytozine. The FDA has explicitly approved Phytozine. As a treatment for ringworms, which proves what a trusted brand it is. Extremely useful, this topical cream not only reduces the infection but cures it completely. It is a mixture of organic minerals and elements in combination with a safe, efficacious fungicide, tolnaftate. The FDA approved tolnaftate, is an active ingredient, which has antiviral properties that help to destroy all ringworm fungi.
How Does It Work?
Almost 25% of the people infected with ringworm develop chronic conditions because they do not treat the cause in time. Several topical ringworm cures are not made to target only ringworm and as a result, are less effective. Phytozine has been specifically designed and developed as a ringworm treatment, and its dynamic blend of ingredients work to reduce, cure and eventually eliminate the infection.
- Phytozine immediately kicks in
- Is entirely natural and as a result safe
- It is an FDA approved anti-fungal cream
- 60-day satisfaction guarantee
Prevention Is Better Than Cure
- Thoroughly wash hands after touching an animal
- Use a disinfectant to sanitize your pet’s living quarters
- Do not share clothing, bed and bath linen and sports equipment
- Avoid walking barefoot in gyms, locker rooms, community areas and public spaces like the beach
- Ensure you maintain good personal hygiene by following a regular and thorough cleansing routine
- Always keep your feet clean and dry because the fungi tend to prefer damp, moist skin and change your socks at least once a day
- Stay away from pets that have bald spots as they are common carriers of the fungus
- In case you suspect you have been exposed to it, immediately wash with an anti-fungal and antibacterial soap. You can also use any soap that has tea tree oil as an ingredient.
Awareness is always the best remedy to prevent being infected by any ailment, least of all one that is as contagious as ringworm. Since children typically tend to have poor personal hygiene, they are especially susceptible to picking up an infection. Those people who do not have good immunity or those who are on medication that weakens the resistance, are at a higher risk of contracting the illness. Besides, people who live in warm, tropical climates, or those who play contact sports like wrestling and boxing, are more vulnerable to catching the infection as well.
For those unlucky enough to catch it, effective skin ointments like Phytozine, which is the go-to skin ointment for ringworm infections, will most likely expel the fungi in two to four weeks. However, for those with more acute symptoms, your doctor may prescribe oral medication like antifungal tablets to stop and eradicate the infection.
Fungal infections usually do not spread below your skin’s surface and as a result, rarely bring on serious illnesses. However, people who already have a weakened immunity like those suffering from diabetes or HIV/ AIDs, their recovery time is prolonged, and they might not find it as easy to get rid of the infection.
If you notice a rash on your skin, scalp or nail area that does not improve in two weeks, you should get in touch with your doctor immediately. The longer you ignore the symptoms, the worse they get and the stronger the medication you will have to take to cure the infection.
The good news is, ringworm is a curable ailment and one that can be treated with reasonably simple remedies, especially for people and children who have good immunity, if you follow your doctor’s orders and the package instructions carefully.