What is ringworm?

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Ringworm refers to a fungal infection that affects various parts of the body including the arms, legs, and even the face.  Medically known as tinea corporis, ringworm can affect both men and women and at any age.  Children may get this infection and so are the adults and the elderly.  The infection involved in ringworm typically starts with the outer layer skin cells.  The fungi that may come in contact with the skin for example will feed on the dead keratin or the outermost layer on the skin.  As the fungi will feed on dead skin, it eventually causes inflammation to nearby healthy skin causing the classic ring-like lesions.

When a person has ringworm infection, he/she may initially notice circular red lesions or patches on the skin.  The ring-like lesion appears scaly on the outer parts and paler on the inner part.  As the infection spreads, the ring-like lesions may also become more prominent and larger.  For some people, only a small patch of skin will be infected with ringworm while for others, several areas in the body may be infected.  Itchiness is also a common complaint for people that have ringworm infection.

People typically get ringworm infection from skin contact with other people who have the same skin condition.  Sharing of clothes or towels may also spread the fungi that cause ringworm. The skin infection may also be passed on from pets to humans.  Those who are into gardening and children who play with soil in the backyards may also get the fungi that cause ringworm.  Standard treatment of ringworm infection involves the application of anti-fungal creams.  Many of these creams can be bought over-the-counter and are typically safe even for children.  For more severe cases of ringworm infection, steroid creams may also be prescribed along with standard anti-fungal creams.  There are also oral medications that may be prescribed by doctors for extreme cases.

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