RINGWORM

Ringworm is not caused by worms. It is also known as tinea that is caused by fungi called dermatophytes. These fungi are microscopic organisms that can live off the dead tissues of your skin, hair, and nails, much like a mushroom can grow on the bark of a tree.

Ringworm is characterized by a red ring of small blisters or a red ring of scaly skin that grows outward as the infection spreads. Both children and adults can be affected by ringworm.

Ringworm of the scalp:

  • Dry, brittle hair or hair loss in patches
  • Severe itching
  • Red-ringed patch of small blisters or scaly skin

Ringworm of the body:

  • Red-ringed patch of small blisters or scaly skin
  • Severe itching is sometimes present

Call your doctor if you have a red-ringed skin rash, severe itching of the skin or scalp, a scaly rash, or hair loss.

DIAGNOSIS

Your doctor will probably recognize ringworm’s characteristic rash. However, he or she may also:

  • Look at the infection with a special light that can detect traces of fluorescent materials that occur in a ringworm infection
  • Scrape an area of involved skin and look at the sample under the microscope
  • Take a culture to find out which if any fungus is causing the infection in order to select the most effective antifungal medicine if the culture is positive

 

RECOMMENDED MEDICATIONS

Your doctor may prescribe an antifungal medication. These drugs work to control the fungus and prevent it from coming back. Many antifungal medications, such as miconazole or clotrimazole, are available over the counter at a less expensive price. Ask your doctor whether you can use one of these or whether prescription-strength medicine is necessary.

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