The fungi that cause ringworm are classified as dermatophytes, which irritate the skin. These fungi thrive in moist, warm environments, hence the tendency for ringworm to develop in the folds of the groin or between the toes. Dermatophytes live from dead tissues from the nails, skin, & hair.
If you are noticing symptoms that look like ringworm, it is important that you come to the dermatologist to get a professional diagnosis, as there are other types of rash & conditions that have symptoms resembling those of tinea. These include insect bites (spider bites, tick bites), nummular eczema, & Lyme disease.
Ringworm is a common fungal infection of the skin, which forms a ring-shaped rash. Despite its name, it has nothing to do with worms. It is also known as tinea. It can affect the trunk & limbs (tinea corporis), the feet (tinea pedis, also known as athlete’s foot), the scalp (tinea capitis), or the groin (tinea cruris, aka jock itch).
There are different types of ringworm (tinea) which affect different areas of the body. The main symptom of ringworm is a round, sharply-defined rash which may either have a red centre, or consist of a red outer ring with normal skin tone inside. There may also be some discoloration of the skin.
- Ringworm (tinea corporis): Ringworm is a fungus, when it affects the skin it causes scaly, red patches that are red & raised, & which may blister & ooze.
- Ringworm of the scalp (tinea capitis): this rash is common in children & adolescents, & is often caught at school. The rash causes hair loss, leading to bald spots on the scalp which are patchy & scaly.
- Ringworm of the foot (tinea pedis): tinea pedis, also known as athlete’s foot, is a common skin condition. The symptoms include scaling & inflammation of the skin between the toes (the toe webs), combined with redness, itching, burning, & a stinging sensation on the soles.
- Ringworm of the groin (tinea cruris): tinea cruris, also known as jock itch, is a reddish-brown rash which starts in the groin & may extend down the thighs. This rash can be mistaken for psoriasis, yeast infection, or intertrigo, as the symptoms are similar.
- Ringworm of the beard (tinea barbae): crustings & swellings on the beard area of the face & neck, which can cause hair breakage.
- Ringworm of the face (tinea faciei): red, scaly patches which do not take the traditional ring-shape
- Ringworm of the h& (tinea manuum): thickened patches of skin (hyperkeratosis), usually in the webspaces (between the fingers) & on the palms
- Ringworm of the nails (tinea unguium or onychomycosis): a common fungal infection of the nails which causes thickened, white, brittle, opaque nails if it occurs on the fingers, or a yellowing & thickening of the nail when it occurs on the toes.