4 things you need to know

What is ringworm?

Ringworm is a fungal infection of the skin. Usually only the upper layers of the skin are affected, and this is where round, reddish and scaly lichens develop. The medical term for ringworm is tinea of ​​the body. Dermatophytes occur only on the trunk and extremities. In addition to the back, chest, and stomach, ringworm can also affect the hands and feet, but not the palms of the hands or the soles of the feet. Dermatomycosis is caused by filamentous fungi that feed on carbohydrates and keratin. Keratin protein is the basic building block of our hair and the outer layer of the skin. Filamentous fungi feel most comfortable there, on the outer, hairy skin layers of our bodies. This explains why ringworm rarely occurs on the palms of the hands or the soles of the feet.

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You need to know

1. Ringworm symptoms

Depending on the severity of the infection and the type of pathogen, ringworm can manifest itself in different ways. However, as a rule, ringworm appears with the following symptoms:

  • dermatophyte fungi
  • desquamation
  • Red rim (sometimes blisters on the rim are also possible)
  • Intense itching in the affected area
  • Several lichens can fuse together

Because the filamentous fungi that cause ringworm feed on the keratin of the outer layers of the skin and the tiny hairs on the skin, tinea corporis primarily affects the top layer of the skin and remains a superficial fungal disease. Sometimes, filamentous fungi can penetrate the root of the hair into the deeper layers of the skin and multiply there. In this form of “tinea corporis” there are additional symptoms such as:

  • ignite
  • painful knot formation
  • swollen lymph nodes
  • fever
  • General feeling of illness

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2. Causes: This is how infection develops

Ringworm is almost always caused by direct transmission of filamentous fungi. Filamentous fungi can be transmitted from person to person by direct skin-to-skin contact, but they can also reach the skin from surfaces and objects. Some filamentous fungi are transmitted to humans from the soil or from animals. Filamentous fungi transmitted by animals usually lead to stronger inflammatory reactions, which are also fought more quickly by the immune system. Possible triggers for ringworm include pathogens such as:

  • Trichophyton rubrum (most common human filamentous fungi)
  • Microsporum canis (a filamentous fungus in cats and dogs)
  • Microsporum gypseum (a soil fungus)

Skin fungi multiply quickly, especially if you find a moist and warm environment. Sweating and heat buildup under non-breathable clothing can trigger a fungal infection.

3. Diagnosis of ringworm

If you suspect ringworm, you should consult a dermatologist immediately. If it is in fact a fungal infection, antifungal ointments should be used. When making a diagnosis, the attending physician will first examine the affected area. Ringworm is easy to identify by typical features such as a circular redness with a raised edge. Sometimes skin and hair samples are taken to examine the fungal cultures under a microscope. Some doctors also use UV light because some skin fungi are particularly visible under light.

4. Ringworm treatment

In most cases, antifungal ointments and creams help fight fungal infections such as ringworm. These drugs work specifically against fungi and can completely eliminate ringworm after a few weeks of use. Antifungal ointments can relieve symptoms such as redness, itching, and scaling after only a few days. Antifungal ointments and creams are also available at pharmacies without a prescription. Always ask a dermatologist for a professional diagnosis before starting antifungal treatment.

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If the fungal infection of the skin is already advanced and extensive ringworm has formed, then antifungal treatment in the form of tablets is sometimes necessary.

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