If you have ever been affected by fungal skin infections, then you know that they can be very irritating and embarrassing. Athlete’s foot, jock-itch, and ringworm are skin infections that can cause a lot of suffering. These three infections are classified as Tinea infections and are usually easy to treat. The infections are caused by mold-like fungi called dermatophytes. These are usually found living on dead tissue in the skin, hair and nails.
Unlike what people think, ringworm is not a worm at all. It affects the skin, scalp and nails, and is a fungal infection. Here are some of the symptoms that a person gets when affected by Tinea.
Ringworm of the skin
This starts off as a reddish bump or patch. The area soon becomes very itchy and can cause a lot of discomfort. The centre of the patch remains clear while a red scaly ring-like bump surrounds it. This is where the name ringworm came from. However, not every person who gets the infection will develop rings.
Ringworm of the Feet
When you get Tinea in your feet, it is called Athlete’s foot. The rash usually occurs between the toes, and is very patchy. Athlete’s foot and jock-itch do not form rings although they are caused by the same fungus.
Ringworm of the Scalp
This starts off as a small sore that looks like a pimple, and which develops into a patchy, flaky and scaly area on the scalp. This infection may cause the loss of hair from the affected areas. The infected area swells and becomes tender and red.
Ringworm of the nails
This usually affects one or more nails in either the hands or the feet. The nails become white or yellow and are thick and brittle. This is not a common infection and rarely affects children who have not reached puberty.
Tinea infections are very common and are usually spread by contact and clothing. Sports clothing should always be cleaned after use since the fungus will grow on the dead skin left in the clothes and this could lead to infection. You should also wear open flip-flops when you are using public changing rooms or the swimming pool. It is important that you take a shower when you have been in the pool, or after playing a contact sport. You can also get Tinea from cats and dogs so you need to keep your pets clean and also wash your hands after you have been handling them.
Once you are infected with Tinea, the doctor will know how to treat you. Tinea of the skin can be easily treated using topical antifungal creams. However tines of the nails and scalp require oral antifungal treatment. The doctor will advise you on which is the best treatment for your case.
Here are pictures of ringworm as they affect different parts of the body