Ringworm in an infection of the skin that is caused by a fungus. Ringworm typically causes an itchy rash and is more common in men than women, and it is more common in warm, humid climates that cold, dry ones. Despite its name, ringworm is not caused by a worm. The fungi that causes ringworm live and spread on the top layer of skin and on the hair. Ringworm is highly contagious by skin to skin contact with a person or animal that has it. It can also be spread through sharing towels or clothing, so if you have it make sure to take extra precautions not to share it with others.
One of the main symptoms of ringworm is a very itchy rash. While it can take the form of a ring, it does not always do so. Sometimes it remains red and very itchy, but it can spread rapidly by scratching the skin. If you have a rash that you suspect to be ringworm, visit your doctor right away. Because ringworm is a fungal infection, you will need special creams to treat the infected areas. Your doctor will be able to determine if the rash that you have is in fact ringworm. A simple scrape test will reveal under a microscope if the ringworm fungus is present.
Generally, ringworm is easy to treat. With prescribed creams the rash will begin to clear up soon after treatment begins. However, just because the rash appears to be better, it is important to continue with your treatment under your doctor tells you it is OK to stop. This will help to keep the infection from coming back, because fungal infections “move” easily over untreated skin areas.
Again, if you suspect that you have ringworm see your doctor right away to keep it from spreading to other places and to other people.
Posted on behalf of Dr. Jodi E. Ganz, Olansky Dermatology Associates