How to Kill Ringworm
What Is Ringworm? Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment
Symptoms and Stages of a Ringworm Infection
The specific symptoms of ringworm depend on the location of the infection. They typically include:
- Itchy skin
- Red, scaly, or cracked skin
- A ring-shaped rash (from which ringworm gets its name)
- Hair loss in the affected area (if hair was present)
The symptoms tend to appear between 4 and 14 days after the skin comes into contact with the fungi that cause ringworm. (1)
Ringworm typically starts out as red or pink skin patches (or spots) that may be either flat or slightly raised. In this initial stage, the sores may be moist, but more often they're dry, scaly, and itchy.
Over time, the rash will increase in size. Next, the center of the rash will start to clear up, leaving a ring-shaped infection with a red, raised border and a healthy-looking center (although the center may remain scaly and red).
If you scratch the rash you may break the skin, which could lead to a bacterial infection.
And if you immediately touch other areas of your body after scratching, you may also inadvertently spread the ringworm infection. So treating at the first sign of infection is vital.
Symptoms of ringworm can be different depending on the specific part of the body that’s affected:
- On the feet (tinea pedis, or “athlete’s foot”): Skin may become swollen, red, and itchy between the toes. The soles and heels of the feet may also be affected. In severe cases, blistering of the skin can occur.
- In the groin area (tinea cruris, or “jock itch”): Itchy, scaly red spots usually appear on the inner thighs.
- On the scalp (tinea capitis): Ringworm can look like an itchy, scaly, inflamed bald spot, and it can grow in size. Scalp infections are more common in children than adults.
- In the beard (tinea barbae): Itchy red spots are visible on the cheeks, chin, and upper neck. The spots may become crusty and may cause hair that’s affected to fall out.
- On fingernails and toenails (onychomycosis): Nails become thick and abnormal in shape and color, and infection can spread from nail to nail. Onychomycosis often occurs in people who have athlete’s foot for a prolonged period. ()
The American Academy of Family Physicians notes that diagnosing ringworm can be a little tricky, because it often resembles other conditions. For instance, tinea corporis might be confused with eczema, psoriasis, or seborrheic dermatitis; tinea capitis might be confused with alopecia areata; and ringworm of the toenails can look like dystrophic toenails (changes in texture and composition) caused by low-level trauma.
Video: Medical Conditions & Treatments : Ringworm & Diaper Rash Symptoms
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