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Ringworm is a collective term for a common fungus infection of the skin which occurs particularly in children. But, people of any age can catch ringworm.

What is ringworm?

Ringworm is a fungal infection of the skin which usually affects the nails, toenails, feet and scalp. It is not actually caused by a worm – as its name suggests. But because the infection often appears as a round shape or ring, it is called ringworm.

Symptoms of Ringworm

Ringworm appears on the skin as scaly red, ring-shaped flaky patches. They spread from the center outwards and are usually itchy, painful and tender. The infected areas can also have a slightly raised edge. When nails are infected, they can become discolored, thickened and scaling skin around the infected area occurs. The nails may also crumble over time. In the scalp area, hair may be lost inside the ringworm patches with bald circular areas appearing. There may be several itchy patches, which can range from a few millimeters to up to 5 centimeters in size.

Causes of Ringworm

Anyone can acquire ringworm. Ringworm is caused by a group of fungi called dermotophytes which can be picked up from another person, domestic animal, soil and even things like household objects which humans and pets that are infected with ringworm have come into contact.

Diagnosis

If you suspect that you might be suffering from ringworm or any kind of fungal infection, consult your doctor. After asking about your medical history, the doctor carry out a physical examination of the infected area/s and ask you some questions about other associated symptoms. For further testing and examination, a small piece of the infected area may be removed. But, to avoid spreading, your doctor will start you on a course of treatment immediately.

Treatments for Ringworm

1. Anti-fungal tablets and creams
2. Anti-fungal shampoo
3. Anti-fungal nail paints and tablets

These products can be bought over-the-counter. But if it doesn’t seem effective, your doctor will prescribe a stronger course of treatment such as imidazoles or terbinafine. If severe infection occur, you may be prescribed topical corticosteroid which is applied to the skin to soothe the soreness.

How to prevent ringworm developing or recurring?

1. Dry yourself thoroughly with a clean and dry towel after bathing and washing
2. Avoid sharing towels
3. Wash beddings and nightclothes frequently
4. Change underwear and socks daily