What Is Ringworm In Humans?
Some people believe that ringworm is an actual worm that enters the body but this is not true, despite the sound of the name. The medical term for ringworm is dermatophytosis or tinia and it is a condition caused by a fungal infection. The dermatopyhtes feed on something called keratin, which is found on our skin, hair and nails.
There are many questions asked as to what is ringworm caused by, what is ringworm and how do you treat it so we will try to answer these questions here in some detail.
What Is Ringworm and Where Does It Come From?
Looking back in history, ringworm has existed since the early 1900s and back then was treated by applying various compounds to the infection such as iodine, sulphur poultices and mercury poultices. It sounds hard when compared to today’s treatments but that was the nature of medicine at the turn of the twentieth century. Latest statistics in the modern world show that one in five people are impacted by some type of ringworm at any given point in time. High risk groups would include children with domestic pets and all team sporting players.
What Is Ringworm? – The Various Types
- Tinea Faciei(Face Fungus)
- Tinea Capitis (Scalp)
- Tinea Crurisroin (Jock Itch) occurs in the groin area
- Tinea Pedis (Feet) Athlete’s feet
- Tinea Corporis (Body)
- Tinea Unguium (Nails )
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What is Ringworm and What Does It Look Like?
Depending on which type of ringworm the person may have, it shows itself in different ways on different parts of the body. Skin ringworm will show a raised red ring, clear in the centre with a surrounding ring or oval shape. Athlete’s Foot looks like the skin is flaking and cracking especially between the toes. The nails can be rather severe and is usually noticed as they start to discolour to a light brown or yellow colour and become very brittle.
What is Ringworm and What Causes It?
Ring worm is caused by coming into contact with an infected person, pet or on some occasions animals such as horses or cattle. You may also get ringworm if you touch an object or place where an infected person has touched. So you honestly have very little control over how you may get this disease. It could be something as simple as sitting on a bus seat where an infected person has sat before you.
You can not prevent ringworm as you will have been infected before any symptoms start to show. You can however stop it spreading to your family and friends and the bigger community by taking some very basic steps, while you get treated.
Don’t share personal clothing, sport’s equipment, towels, bed linen and avoid direct contact such as kissing, hugging or handshakes with anyone. Wash your clothes, towels and bed linen in hot water with fungicidal soap. Stay away from any pets or animals and certainly do not pet them.
What Is Ringworm In Dogs, Cats and Other Animals
Ringworm in domestic pets or animals is different to ringworm in humans. Animals for example are not carriers of foot ringworm to humans, but they can carry and transmit the other types of ringworm. Ringworm in dogs etc must be treated by a vet and it is likely the animals will lose clusters of their hair as the ringworm attacks the skin underneath and makes the hair die and fall out. On both animals and humans there is a considerable itching factor. The first signs of ringworm on an animal is the baldy patches on the skin.
Treatments can be expensive but they are very necessary and this should never be left to heal itself. The pet will usually need a clipping but again be advised by the vet. Treatments are usually various forms of dips in a sulphur solution. It can take up to ten weeks for a full course.
What is Ringworm and How Do You Treat It?
There are any number of treatments and remedies available and if you are in any doubt or have a specific medical need consult your doctor. This is essential to do if there is a history of either lupus or liver disease. Usually after two week’s treatment you should see an improvement. The truth is some of these treatments work for some people and some don’t.
Always be aware of getting infected again as it is usually more severe and always take the full course of the treatment. Don’t stop once you see an improvement as that would be a huge mistake. Scalp, feet and nails ringworm are often treated with pills and can take longer to work. It can often be a year or more for this to work and cure the ringworm.
Ringworm is mildly contagious and can be spread easily. It must always be treated and the sooner you recognise the symptoms and begin treatment, then the sooner the ringworm will go away.