Ringworm is a fungal infection of the skin, scientifically known as dermatophytosis. This infection is specifically caused by fungus that requires keratin in order to grow, which is why it is found on parts of the body that are rich in keratin like our hair and nails. So,in reality the condition has no relation to worms in any way, other than the fact that affected areas appear discoloured and bounded by what resembles a worm.
The term ringworm most commonly refers to tinea corporis, which is a superficial infection of the skin on any part of the body, such as the arms and legs. However, the term may also be applied to conditions where these fungi infect other regions, like tinea cruris, which is a fungal infection in the groin region.
If you’ve noticed severe discolouration on your skin, regardless of its cause, it warrants an immediate check-up by a professional. We recommend these General Physician in Lahore, if you require one in that city.
Though symptoms can vary depending on the site of infection, the condition is primarily characterised by the appearance of itchy reddish, scaly or raised patches of skin called plaques. Other symptoms that could be present include:
- Patches of infected skin that may develop pustules or blisters
- Discoloured nails that may appear thicker or begin to crack
- Hair that seemingly breaks easily or is lost more frequently, resulting in bald patches
- A scalp that feels tender and sore when touched, with flakey or scaly skin on the surface
There are three fungi that cause ringworm:Trichophyton, Microsporum, and Epidermophyton. These fungi could potentially survive long periods in soil, and infect humans and animals after direct contact with that soil. The infection can also be contagious and may spread between humans and animals.
A rash might be mistaken for ringworm, so certain tests must be done to confirm that it is indeed a fungal infection causing the appearance of these discoloured patches. Some fungi fluoresce under UV light, so placing these affected areas under such a light can be a quick test to determine the nature of the rash. In addition to this, there are some other tests your physician may suggest in order to confirm the diagnosis, including:
- A skin biopsy or fungal culture, whereby some skin may be scraped or pus drawn from a blister and tested for the presence of fungus.
- A potassium hydroxide exam, which entails scraping off some skin from the affected area as before, and then placing it onto a microscope slide where it is mixed with potassium hydroxide. The potassium hydroxide breaks apart normal skin cells, leaving potential fungal matter intact and visible.
Ringworm is primarily treated with anti-fungal medications, but lifestyle changes may also be suggested to mitigate the spread of the infection. Medications include anti-fungal creams gels and sprays for tinea corporis, and oral-medications like griseofulvin for ringworm of the nails and scalp. A lot of over-the-counter medications like clotrimazole and terbinafine can also be used to treat ringworm.
When it comes to lifestyle adjustments, maintaining cleanly clothing, bed sheets and other fabrics you come into contact with, thoroughly drying your body, and wearing loose clothes all contribute to ensuring your infection is manageable and does not spread further.
If you believe you have ringworm, we suggest you consult a physician immediately in order to properly diagnose it early on. We suggest you consider some of these General Physician in Karachi, if you live in the area.