Have you started noticing raised, itchy, and ring-shaped rashes on the skin that are red, brown, or gray? Are you irritated by how this itch doesn’t seem to pass even after smearing a palm-full of body lotion? If you find yourself nodding along worriedly to the above questions, chances are your skin’s been invaded by pesky fungi causing a Ringworm infection!
A fungal infection that creates a circle of itch on the skin sounds funky. But if you’ve never had it even once, count yourself among the lucky ones. Ringworm is quite a common, stubborn, and bothersome skin issue. And if you have it, there’s a solid chance you are willing to try nearly anything to alleviate the itching, burning, and other uncomfortable sensations that came along with it. Before we dig into how to stop Ringworm from spreading, let’s scratch the surface of the matter and understand it better.
Ringworm: the what and the woes
Ringworm is a highly contagious type of fungal infection, that’s usually seen on the skin, but can flare on the scalp as well. They are also known as dermatophytosis, dermatophyte infection, or tinea.
To set the record straight, “Ringworm” is a complete misnomer. Meaning, that it has got nothing to do with worms since it is a fungus that causes it. The lesion caused due to this infection resembles a worm in the shape of a ring, which is why it got its name.
You’re at the risk of getting looped in the circle of Ringworm if:
- You live in an area with warm to humid weather
- Have close contact with an infected person
- Share clothing, bed sheets, or towels with someone who has a fungal infection
- Wear tight or restrictive clothing during the monsoon
- Have a low immunity
And once you’ve started seeing the signs of Ringworm, an untreated infection spreads from an affected area to other parts of the body. Here’s where that’s likely to flare:
How to recognise a Ringworm?
There are various types of fungal skin infections similar to Ringworm. But a skin patch that develops a slightly raised border, forming a roughly circular ring, is usually a clear indicator of Ringworm.
Symptoms of this infection hugely vary depending on where the area of the flare is. When it occurs on the skin, you may experience the following:
- Itchy patches that are red, brown, or gray
- Raised areas on the skin called plaques
- Lesions or vitiligo patches may also appear in areas like the knees and elbows
- Scaly patches that grow blisters
- Circular patches that resemble a ring with deeper color on the outside
- Hair loss in the affected area
How does Ringworm spread?
There are nearly 40 different species of fungus known to cause Ringworm. They are usually of the Trichophyton, Microsporum, and Epidermophyton types. These fungi can live on your skin, surfaces and for an extended period as spores in the soil.
There are four ways you may be getting Ringworm, here’s what they are:
- Human to human:This one goes without saying. The most usual way of getting infected by Ringworm is by coming in contact with an infected person. This can be through touch or sharing personal items such as combs or towels. It is due to this reason that this infection is commonly spread among children.
- Animal to human: The sight and the sound of your furry friend licking their paws can be irritating. But they’re not to blame. They may be suffering from an itchy skin condition. And if it’s the same Ringworm causing fungi, chances are, you can get it from them too! Apart from cats and dogs other animals such as farm animals can also spread the fungi.
- Object to human: Ever seen molds on the walls of your house, especially perhaps during the monsoon season? If you’re not cautious, you may get the infection after coming in contact with that surface. Even infected objects such as a telephone or the floor of a public shower could trigger the condition. That’s because these fungi thrive in damp environments.
- Soil to humans:The soil has a host of microorganisms – some harmless and some bad for us. Humans and animals are likely to Ringworm after direct contact with the ground carrying the fungi.
- Note:Ringworm is highly contagious during people’s first 48 hours of treatment. However, untreated Ringworm is contagious for much longer. It is seen that the fungal spores themselves can live for up to 20 months.
How to prevent the infection?
The fungi that cause it are everywhere. That’s why you need to be cautious of your surroundings and practice daily hygiene. We’ve chalked out a few ways how you can stop Ringworm from spreading or getting it in the first place.
- Keep your skin clean and dry
- Keep your feet protected from damp environments
- Change your socks and underwear daily
- Don’t share clothes or towels with others
- Wash your hands well after playing with pets. If your pets have Ringworm or other fungal infection, see your vet.
Treatment of Ringworm
The treatment of the infection depends on where and how bad it is. In many mild cases, your doctor may recommend an over-the-counter (OTC) medicine you can get at the drugstore. If Ringworm is on your skin, an OTC antifungal cream, lotion, or powder may work fine. They’ll also suggest a few lifestyle changes to care for your infection better.
Ringworm is an uncomfortable fungal infection many of us are likely to experience at one point or another. If you experience symptoms of Ringworm, do practice extra hygiene immediately and seek expert help.
In some cases, Ringworm is cured on its own or with the help of OTC medicines and ointments. But taking clinical treatment is always recommended. A dermatologist will examine your body’s infected part and suggest the best treatment.