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Symptoms and treatment of fungal skin infections

Ringworm, or tinea, presents as a round, sometimes slightly raised, blemish on the skin. Contrary to popular belief, and despite its name, ringworm is not a worm — the disease was given that name because people mistakenly thought that the infection was caused by a worm. However, ringworm is actually a fungal infection, so it is easily treated with antifungal medications. Here are some signs and symptoms to look for if you suspect you or your child has ringworm.

Ringworm Symptoms, Causes and Types

Ringworm is caused by dermatophytes, or fungi that reside on your skin. As with oral thrush, then, the harbingers of the infection live right on your body. Heat and moisture help the fungi to survive and grow, which means that a lot of fungal infections are found in the folds of skin, such as in the groin or between the toes. Ringworm can infect the scalp, neck, chest, hands, face, groin, nails and feet. Ringworm of the groin is known as jock itch, while ringworm on the feet is known as athlete's foot.

Signs and symptoms of ringworm include:

  • Round, raised red spots on any of the abovementioned areas
  • Itchiness or burning in the affected area
  • Thickening, swelling or crusting at the site of infection

Ringworm Treatment

Your doctor will determine if you have ringworm by looking at your skin infection. If it is ringworm, your doctor can treat it with an antifungal cream, which will not only knock out the infection but also relieve your symptoms. Some creams include Lamisil, Cruex, Desenex and Lotrimin. If these do not penetrate the fungus, the doctor may offer you an oral solution to help.

Ringworm is not serious, but it is contagious. Keep your infected skin areas out of close contact with family members to prevent the spread of infection. Minimize sweat and moisture to prevent the ringworm from getting worse. Always be careful to ensure that your toes and groin area are clean and dry after swimming or exercising.

With prompt treatment, ringworm will not get worse, nor will it spread if you are careful to contain the infection. With the proper precautions, this common fungal infection will be short-lived.

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