Being infected with fungi is very common to us. Some of these are not contagious but should be immediately addressed. This is because they could spread on the other parts of the body and could cause severe discomfort. Even if they don’t have life-threatening impacts, fungal infections should still be treated immediately to improve the lifestyle of patients. Athlete’s foot, jock itch, and yeast infections are among the most common fungal infections that are affecting humans. Aside from this, many people are also diagnosed to be suffering from ringworm.
Ringworm is also referred to as tinea or dermatophytosis. It affects all age groups and can be commonly seen on various body parts including the nails, feet, skin, scalp as well as the groin. The fungal infection impacts, not just us, but also our pets in the house. It is super contagious and can be transferred to another through the skin to skin touch.
The fungal infection gets its name from its appearance. It is characterized by a red rash in a circular form. However, patients have nothing to worry as the condition is not caused by any form of parasite or worm. This skin condition is easy to treat as there are many self-help remedies available for those suffering from ringworm. To know more about this infection, here are some important details that are useful in diagnosing and treating ringworm.
What are the different kinds of ringworm?
To choose the right treatment, the first step is to identify the type of ringworm that has affected the patient. Those who have small circular rashes that eventually become scaly and itchy patches are commonly diagnosed with tinea capitis or scalp ringworm.
Unlike the scalp ringworm which usually starts with tiny sores, tinea corporis or body ringworm begins with a big round ring that looks like big red skin patches. On the other hand, athlete’s foot or tinea pedis is very common in people who are always walking barefoot in unsanitary and public areas like swimming pools, showers, and even locker rooms.
What are the causes of ringworm?
The condition can be caused by three different kinds of fungi namely the Epidermophyton, Microsporum and Trichophyton. Research showed that animals and humans are prone to having this condition as the fungi are commonly present in the soil. Additionally, the study indicated that children are at high risk of ringworm when they share unsanitary toys and other items.
Aside from children, there are other groups of people who are more susceptible to this fungal infection. Among these are those who have pets at their houses. It also includes people who have abrasions and injuries on their skin. Meanwhile, sharing unwashed clothing and hairbrushes also compromise us and puts at risk of having ringworm.
What are the visible symptoms of the fungal infection?
Ringworm infections usually begin with having raised, scaly, itchy and red skin patches. Eventually, these patches will turn into blisters and will have redder edges on the outside. This makes it look like a ring with clearer skin inside. For patients who are suffering from ringworm in the nails, among the symptoms that they can experience are having discolored and thicker nails. They will, later on, start to crack. Meanwhile, those who have this fungal infection in the scalp will develop bald patches and will experience hair break or hair fall.
What are the measures that dermatologists take to diagnose the infection?
To provide the appropriate treatment for the condition, it is essential that medical experts ensure that they diagnose the specific cause of the ringworm in a patient. To do this, medical professionals often use a black light to extensively examine the patient’s skin. This is effective as the area infected by the fungus will glow when shown under black light.
If the examination under black light is inconclusive, medical professionals or dermatologists will request for a fungal culture. The skin biopsy works as a skin sample or blister discharge will be taken by the doctor. It will be requested for a further laboratory examination.
Aside from black light examination and skin biopsy, another diagnostic test that will be performed is the potassium hydroxide or KOH test. This examination works by destroying the normal cells found on a skin sample. This results in the cells infected by the fungi untouched. The test will enable the professionals to easily identify the fungi that are to be seen under the microscope.
How do we treat patients with ringworm?
As soon as a patient is diagnosed with ringworm, immediate start of an effective treatment method will be recommended by the doctor. The treatment options commonly combine the use of medications with drastic changes in the patient’s lifestyle. This is to prevent the fungi from spreading to the other skin parts and other people.
The medications that will be prescribed by the doctor will vary on the type of ringworm that was seen on the patient. Antifungal creams or gels and other topical drugs are often recommended for patients with athlete’s foot and jock itch. On the other hand, terbinafine, griseofulvin, ketoconazole and various kinds of prescription-strength oral medications are recommended to those who are suffering from nail or scalp ringworm.
Are there any self-help treatments to try?
In addition to the use of medications, there are other self-help treatments that can be tried by ringworm patients. These include the need for covering the affected skin areas with a clean bandage to prevent the clothes from irritating the skin and spreading the fungi to the other body parts. It is also essential to have the clothes and beddings of the patient washed on a daily basis to disinfect the area. Above all, ensuring that the skin is dry and clean at all times is important. This is to prevent any other conditions or complications that could be caused by ringworm. Strep or staph infections is an example, and can be treated with the intake or use of antibiotics.
What is the time frame for treating ringworms?
If immediately with appropriate medications, fungal infections are expected to be gone in around two to four weeks. Ensure that you get back to your doctor if the medications fail to clear the symptoms in the mentioned time frame. You may need stronger antifungal pills to treat the severe dermatophytosis on your skin.