Ringworm and Fungal Infections

A fungus is an organism that lives in the soil and on our skin.

In most people, the body can ward off fungal infections, rendering it harmless when it comes in contact with our skin. However, in susceptible individuals, it takes root in the dermis, hair, or nail beds and requires treatment by a dermatologist.

Fungal Infections Commonly Treated

Ringworm (tinea corporis)

This is not a worm at all, but a fungus that infects the skin. It can affect any area of your body, typically beginning as a red, scaly and dry patch of skin. As it grows, the patch expands and forms concentric red rings or overlapping patches. It is not dangerous, but ringworm is itchy and uncomfortable, as well as contagious. It is spread from contact with infected people, animals, or clothing and upholstery. It thrives in a warm, damp environment.

Your dermatologist can confirm the diagnosis of ringworm by placing a scraping under the microscope. He may recommend over-the-counter topical creams, prescription anti-fungal medications, or oral drugs for more severe cases.

Athlete’s Foot (tinea pedis)

Athlete’s Foot is the name given to a ringworm infection that affects the feet. It is one of the most common areas to find a fungal infection. The fungus grows in warms damp places like an old pair of running shoes or a change room floor. Scaly itchy patches are often noted on the soles of the feet with scaling in the spaces between the toes.

Tinea Capitis

Tinea capitis is ringworm of the scalp which occurs when the fungus invades the hair shaft. Patients, usually children (often African American), may experience patches of hair loss, inflammation, pustules, scaly scalp, and itching. Your dermatologist can provide an accurate diagnosis and distinguish this infection from other common scalp conditions such as psoriasis and dermatitis. An oral anti-fungal medication usually knocks it out within six to eight weeks.

Toenail Fungus

Toenail fungus, formally called onychomycosis, is also sometimes called “ringworm of the nail.” It can occur on fingers, too, but is more common on the feet since it likes warm, moist surroundings. It is not life-threatening, but nail fungus can cause significant nail disfigurement and embarrassment to sufferers. A lab culture is often necessary to confirm the diagnosis. Your doctor can recommend topical, oral and even laser treatments to restore your nail. Nail fungus is stubborn, so up to a year of therapy may be needed for full results.

Talk with the physicians at Sanova Dermatology if you have symptoms of these or other fungal infections.

Contact Sanova Dermatology

If you would like more information, or if you would like to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced dermatologists, please contact us today.

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