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Ringworm of the body

Tinea corporis; Fungal infection - body; Tinea circinata; Ringworm - body

 

Ringworm is a skin infection that is caused by fungi. It is also called tinea.

Related skin fungus infections may appear:

  • On the scalp
  • In a man's beard
  • In the groin (jock itch)
  • Between the toes (athlete's foot)

Causes

 

Fungi are germs that can live on the dead tissue of the hair, nails, and outer skin layers. Ringworm of the body is caused by mold-like fungi called dermatophytes.

Ringworm of the body is common in children, but can occur in people of all ages.

Fungi thrive in warm, moist areas. A ringworm infection is more likely if you:

  • Have wet skin for a long time (such as from sweating)
  • Have minor skin and nail injuries
  • Do not bathe or wash your hair often
  • Have close contact with other people (such as in sports like wrestling)

Ringworm can spread easily. You can catch it if you come into direct contact with an area of ringworm on someone's body. You can also get it by touching items that have the fungi on them, such as:

  • Clothing
  • Combs
  • Pool surfaces
  • Shower floors and walls

Ringworm can also be spread by pets. Cats are common carriers.

 

Symptoms

 

The rash begins as a small area of red, raised spots and pimples. The rash slowly becomes ring-shaped, with a red, raised border and a clearer center. The border may look scaly.

The rash may occur on the arms, legs, face, or other exposed body areas.

The area may be itchy.

 

Exams and Tests

 

Your health care provider can often diagnose ringworm by looking at your skin.

You may also need the following tests:

  • Examination of a skin scraping from the rash under a microscope using a special test
  • Skin culture for fungus
  • Skin biopsy

 

Treatment

 

Keep your skin clean and dry.

Use creams that treat fungal infections.

  • Creams that contain miconazole, clotrimazole, ketoconazole, terbinafine, or oxiconazole, or other antifungal medicines are often effective in controlling ringworm.
  • You can buy some of these creams over-the-counter, or your provider may give you a prescription.

To use this medicine:

  • Wash and dry the area first.
  • Apply the cream, beginning just outside the area of the rash and moving toward the center. Be sure to wash and dry your hands afterward.
  • Use the cream twice a day for 7 to 10 days.
  • Do not use a bandage over ringworm.

Your provider may prescribe medicine to take by mouth if your infection is very bad.

A child with ringworm can return to school once treatment has started.

To prevent the infection from spreading:

  • Wash clothing, towels, and bedding in hot, soapy water and then dry them using hottest heat as recommended on the care label.
  • Use a new towel and washcloth every time you wash.
  • Clean sinks, bathtubs, and bathroom floors well after each use.
  • Wear clean clothes every day and do not share clothes.
  • If you play contact sports, shower right away afterward. 

Infected pets should also be treated. This is because ringworm can spread from animals to humans by contact.

 

Outlook (Prognosis)

 

Ringworm often goes away within 4 weeks when using antifungal creams. The infection may spread to the feet, scalp, groin, or nails. 

 

Possible Complications

 

Two complications of ringworm are:

  • Skin infection from scratching too much
  • Other skin disorders that require further treatment

 

When to Contact a Medical Professional

 

Call your provider if ringworm does not get better with self-care.

 

 

References

Habif TP. Superficial fungal infections. In: Habif TP, ed. Clinical Dermatology: A Color Guide to Diagnosis and Therapy. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 13.

Hay RJ. Dermatophytosis (ringworm) and other superficial mycoses. In: Bennett JE, Dolin R, Blaser MJ, eds. Mandell, Douglas, and Bennett's Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases, Updated Edition. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2015:chap 268.

 
  • Dermatitis, reaction to tinea

    Dermatitis, reaction to tinea - illustration

    This picture shows a skin inflammation of the fingers with multiple blisters (vesicles) caused by an allergic reaction to a fungal infection (tinea corporis). (Image courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.)

    Dermatitis, reaction to tinea

    illustration

  • Ringworm, tinea corporis on an infant's leg

    Ringworm, tinea corporis on an infant's leg - illustration

    This child's leg shows a classical-appearing ringworm lesion with central clearing and a slightly raised red border.

    Ringworm, tinea corporis on an infant's leg

    illustration

  • Tinea versicolor - close-up

    Tinea versicolor - close-up - illustration

    Tinea versicolor is a superficial fungal infection common in adolescent and young adult males. This close-up view demonstrates the typical pattern of the rash.

    Tinea versicolor - close-up

    illustration

  • Tinea versicolor - shoulders

    Tinea versicolor - shoulders - illustration

    Tinea versicolor is a superficial fungal infection common in adolescent and young adult males. Frequent sites of infection include the neck, upper chest, and axilla (arm pit). The rash may range from yellow to golden brown in color. Mild itching is also associated with this infection. This photograph demonstrates fairly extensive involvement.

    Tinea versicolor - shoulders

    illustration

  • Ringworm, tinea on the hand and leg

    Ringworm, tinea on the hand and leg - illustration

    This is a picture of ringworm (tinea) on the hand and leg. Tinea is a fungal infection of the skin. Ringworm is not seen as frequently in adults as in children, but when conditions are conducive to growth, the fungus can flourish.

    Ringworm, tinea on the hand and leg

    illustration

  • Tinea versicolor - close-up

    Tinea versicolor - close-up - illustration

    This is a fungal infection of the skin known as tinea versicolor, and is common in adolescent and young adult males. Besides the rash, there may be mild itching. Frequent sites of infection include the neck, upper chest, and arm pit (axilla). The rash may be white to yellowish to golden brown in color. A tan can accentuate the difference in skin color.

    Tinea versicolor - close-up

    illustration

  • Tinea versicolor on the back

    Tinea versicolor on the back - illustration

    Tinea versicolor is an infection caused by a fungus that is common in adolescent and young adult males. Besides the rash, seen here on the back, there may be mild itching. Frequent sites of infection include the neck, upper chest, and arm pit (axilla). The rash may be white (as seen here) to yellowish to golden brown in color. A tan can accentuate the difference in skin color.

    Tinea versicolor on the back

    illustration

  • Ringworm, tinea manuum on the finger

    Ringworm, tinea manuum on the finger - illustration

    This is a picture of ringworm, tinea manum, on the finger. This fungal infection is inflamed and scaly.

    Ringworm, tinea manuum on the finger

    illustration

  • Ringworm, tinea corporis on the leg

    Ringworm, tinea corporis on the leg - illustration

    Ringworm is a fungal infection of the skin. It usually produces a ring-shaped lesion which appears to clear in the center. The edges of the lesion may be slightly raised and often itch. Central clearing can be seen in some of the infected areas on the leg of this person.

    Ringworm, tinea corporis on the leg

    illustration

  • Granuloma, fungal (Majocchi's)

    Granuloma, fungal (Majocchi's) - illustration

    This condition of fungal granuloma has produced a large, red (erythematous) patch (plaque) with a prominent border, within which are scattered blisters (pustules) indicating deeper involvement of hair follicles (Majocchi's granuloma). This infection was caused by Trichophyton rubrum.

    Granuloma, fungal (Majocchi's)

    illustration

  • Granuloma, fungal (Majocchi's)

    Granuloma, fungal (Majocchi's) - illustration

    This is a picture of a fungal granuloma, a large, red (erythematous) patch (plaque) with a prominent border. Within the borders of the lesion are scattered blisters (pustules) that indicate deeper involvement of hair follicles (Majocchi's granuloma). This dermatophyte infection was caused by Trichophyton rubrum.

    Granuloma, fungal (Majocchi's)

    illustration

  • Tinea corporis - ear

    Tinea corporis - ear - illustration

    Tinea coporis of the ear is shown here. The area is erythematous with peripheral scale. There is some erosion and fissuring, likely from the inflammation incited by the dermatophyte. Topical antifungal cream may be curative.

    Tinea corporis - ear

    illustration

    • Dermatitis, reaction to tinea

      Dermatitis, reaction to tinea - illustration

      This picture shows a skin inflammation of the fingers with multiple blisters (vesicles) caused by an allergic reaction to a fungal infection (tinea corporis). (Image courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.)

      Dermatitis, reaction to tinea

      illustration

    • Ringworm, tinea corporis on an infant's leg

      Ringworm, tinea corporis on an infant's leg - illustration

      This child's leg shows a classical-appearing ringworm lesion with central clearing and a slightly raised red border.

      Ringworm, tinea corporis on an infant's leg

      illustration

    • Tinea versicolor - close-up

      Tinea versicolor - close-up - illustration

      Tinea versicolor is a superficial fungal infection common in adolescent and young adult males. This close-up view demonstrates the typical pattern of the rash.

      Tinea versicolor - close-up

      illustration

    • Tinea versicolor - shoulders

      Tinea versicolor - shoulders - illustration

      Tinea versicolor is a superficial fungal infection common in adolescent and young adult males. Frequent sites of infection include the neck, upper chest, and axilla (arm pit). The rash may range from yellow to golden brown in color. Mild itching is also associated with this infection. This photograph demonstrates fairly extensive involvement.

      Tinea versicolor - shoulders

      illustration

    • Ringworm, tinea on the hand and leg

      Ringworm, tinea on the hand and leg - illustration

      This is a picture of ringworm (tinea) on the hand and leg. Tinea is a fungal infection of the skin. Ringworm is not seen as frequently in adults as in children, but when conditions are conducive to growth, the fungus can flourish.

      Ringworm, tinea on the hand and leg

      illustration

    • Tinea versicolor - close-up

      Tinea versicolor - close-up - illustration

      This is a fungal infection of the skin known as tinea versicolor, and is common in adolescent and young adult males. Besides the rash, there may be mild itching. Frequent sites of infection include the neck, upper chest, and arm pit (axilla). The rash may be white to yellowish to golden brown in color. A tan can accentuate the difference in skin color.

      Tinea versicolor - close-up

      illustration

    • Tinea versicolor on the back

      Tinea versicolor on the back - illustration

      Tinea versicolor is an infection caused by a fungus that is common in adolescent and young adult males. Besides the rash, seen here on the back, there may be mild itching. Frequent sites of infection include the neck, upper chest, and arm pit (axilla). The rash may be white (as seen here) to yellowish to golden brown in color. A tan can accentuate the difference in skin color.

      Tinea versicolor on the back

      illustration

    • Ringworm, tinea manuum on the finger

      Ringworm, tinea manuum on the finger - illustration

      This is a picture of ringworm, tinea manum, on the finger. This fungal infection is inflamed and scaly.

      Ringworm, tinea manuum on the finger

      illustration

    • Ringworm, tinea corporis on the leg

      Ringworm, tinea corporis on the leg - illustration

      Ringworm is a fungal infection of the skin. It usually produces a ring-shaped lesion which appears to clear in the center. The edges of the lesion may be slightly raised and often itch. Central clearing can be seen in some of the infected areas on the leg of this person.

      Ringworm, tinea corporis on the leg

      illustration

    • Granuloma, fungal (Majocchi's)

      Granuloma, fungal (Majocchi's) - illustration

      This condition of fungal granuloma has produced a large, red (erythematous) patch (plaque) with a prominent border, within which are scattered blisters (pustules) indicating deeper involvement of hair follicles (Majocchi's granuloma). This infection was caused by Trichophyton rubrum.

      Granuloma, fungal (Majocchi's)

      illustration

    • Granuloma, fungal (Majocchi's)

      Granuloma, fungal (Majocchi's) - illustration

      This is a picture of a fungal granuloma, a large, red (erythematous) patch (plaque) with a prominent border. Within the borders of the lesion are scattered blisters (pustules) that indicate deeper involvement of hair follicles (Majocchi's granuloma). This dermatophyte infection was caused by Trichophyton rubrum.

      Granuloma, fungal (Majocchi's)

      illustration

    • Tinea corporis - ear

      Tinea corporis - ear - illustration

      Tinea coporis of the ear is shown here. The area is erythematous with peripheral scale. There is some erosion and fissuring, likely from the inflammation incited by the dermatophyte. Topical antifungal cream may be curative.

      Tinea corporis - ear

      illustration

    A Closer Look

     

      Talking to your MD

       

        Self Care

         

          Tests for Ringworm of the body

           

             

            Review Date: 10/24/2016

            Reviewed By: David L. Swanson, MD, Vice Chair of Medical Dermatology, Associate Professor of Dermatology, Mayo Medical School, Scottsdale, AZ. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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