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Ringworm

Dermatophytid; Tinea

 

Ringworm is a skin infection due to a fungus or yeast. Often, there are several patches of ringworm on the skin at once. The medical name for ringworm is tinea.

Causes

 

Ringworm is common, especially among children. But, it can affect people of all ages. It is caused by a fungus or yeast, not a worm like the name suggests.

Many bacteria, fungi, and yeast live on your body. Some of these are useful, while others can cause infections. Ringworm occurs when a type of fungus or yeast grows and multiplies on your skin.

Ringworm can spread easily from one person to another. You can catch ringworm if you touch someone who has the infection, or if you come into contact with items contaminated by the fungus, such as combs, unwashed clothing, and shower or pool surfaces. You can also catch ringworm from pets that carry the fungus. Cats are common carriers.

The fungus that causes ringworm thrive in warm, moist areas. Ringworm is more likely when you are often wet (such as from sweating) and from minor injuries to your skin, scalp, or nails.

Ringworm can affect the skin on your:

  • Beard, tinea barbae
  • Body, tinea corporis
  • Feet, tinea pedis (also called athlete's foot)
  • Groin area, tinea cruris (also called jock itch)
  • Scalp, tinea capitis

 

 

References

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

  • Ringworm, tinea capitis - close-up

    Ringworm, tinea capitis - close-up - illustration

    In the scalp, fungal infections often form circular, scaly, inflamed patches. Frequently, there can be temporary hair loss (hair returns when infection clears but if treatment is delayed and scarring results, permanent hair loss can be seen). This is a classical example of ringworm (tinea capitis) in a young child.

    Ringworm, tinea capitis - close-up

    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

  • 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

  • Tinea (ringworm)

    Tinea (ringworm) - illustration

    Ringworm is a common skin disorder, especially among children, but may occur in people of all ages. It is caused by mold-like fungi (dermatophytes).

    Tinea (ringworm)

    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

    • Ringworm, tinea capitis - close-up

      Ringworm, tinea capitis - close-up - illustration

      In the scalp, fungal infections often form circular, scaly, inflamed patches. Frequently, there can be temporary hair loss (hair returns when infection clears but if treatment is delayed and scarring results, permanent hair loss can be seen). This is a classical example of ringworm (tinea capitis) in a young child.

      Ringworm, tinea capitis - close-up

      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

    • 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

    • Tinea (ringworm)

      Tinea (ringworm) - illustration

      Ringworm is a common skin disorder, especially among children, but may occur in people of all ages. It is caused by mold-like fungi (dermatophytes).

      Tinea (ringworm)

      illustration

    Tests for Ringworm

     

       

      Review Date: 4/14/2015

      Reviewed By: Kevin Berman, MD, PhD, Atlanta Center for Dermatologic Disease, Atlanta, GA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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