Despite the name, ringworm is not caused by a worm or a parasite. In actual fact, it is a very common infection caused by a certain type of fungi.
Ringworm is highly contagious and can be spread through close contact with infected objects, such as towels, bedsheets and combs and an infected person or animal. Although less common, ringworm can also be spread through infected soil.
Ringworm can appear on all parts of the body and the certain type of fungi that cause the infection belongs to a family of fungal infections that affect feet, nails, scalp (tinea capitis) and groin (jock itch). However, ringworm is most commonly found to affect the arms and legs.
After contracting the infection, symptoms will usually appear within a week or two.
The main symptom of ringworm in humans is the appearance of a red or silver-coloured rash which usually tends to be itchy, swollen, dry or scaly. The rash is usually ring shaped (unless it appears on your scalp, face or neck). Ringworm that affects the hands will also cause a thickening of the skin between fingers or on the palm of the hand. Ringworm found in the scalp may also contribute to minor hair loss.
In cases where ringworm becomes more serious, symptoms may include:
- Additional rings appearing
- Rings merging together
- Rings becoming further inflamed
- Sores and blisters forming
- Ringworm to the face swelling and becoming itchy
Ringworm is easily treated with a course of anti-fungal medication. This may come in the form of a cream, gel, spray or tablets depending on where the rash is and its severity.
Anti-fungal medication should be taken every day for two weeks. After a period of two weeks to a month, the infection should clear up. It is important to finish the whole course of treatment, even if your symptoms disappear.
Due to the highly contagious nature of ringworm, if left untreated it can spread to other parts of the body with symptoms becoming more intense. Additionally, it can be passed on to other people. Therefore, it is beneficial to seek treatment as soon as possible.
Ahmeys healthcare professionals are here to undertake a full examination of any concerning rashes, talk through your symptoms and, if needed, prescribe the right anti-fungal medication to help clear up the infection quickly.