Ringworm is the infection of the skin, hair, or nails caused by various kinds of fungi that belong to the genera Trichophyton, Epidermophyton, and Microsporum. Ringworm tends to infect moist areas of the body, such as the groin, between the toes, and under the arms. The affected area usually becomes inflamed and itching may or may not be a symptom.
Common ringworm of the skin is often seen in children. It begins as a small red area the size of a split pea. This grows larger and sometimes reaches the size of a silver dollar. The area inside clears and the eruption appears as a red, scaly ring. This form of ringworm appears on non-hairy parts of the body.
Ringworm of the scalp, which also occurs primarily in children, is the most contagious form of the disorder. It causes itching, and the hair may break off or fall out, giving the scalp a patchy appearance.
Treatment requires that the hair be shaved off. An oral antifungal medication may be prescribed. Scalp sores must be kept clean and dry, and often the child is isolated to prevent the infection from spreading to other children.
Ringworm is infectious, but it can usually be easily cured if treated with local applications of fungicidal compounds as advised by a physician. The spots of this of this type of ringworm may disappear without treatment after a few weeks, or they may persist for months. Body ringworm may attack persons of any age. Flat yellowish or brownish patches may appear on the patient's neck, back, chest, or abdomen. Ringworm may also affect the fingernails and toenails, causing thickening and deformation. When found on the feet, ringworm is called athlete?s foot.
To diagnose ringworm, a physician scrapes off portions of the affected areas and examines...