Ringworm

From Academic Kids

Ringworm, also known as Tinea, is a contagious fungal infection of the skin. It is very common, especially among children, and may be spread by skin-to-skin contact, as well as via contact with contaminated items such as hairbrushes. Ringworm spreads readily, as those infected are contagious even before they show symptoms of the disease. Humans can contract ringworm from animals; cats and dogs are often carriers.

Contents

Types

A number of species of fungi called dermatophytes cause ringworm. Members of the genera Trichophyton and Microsporum are the most common causative agents. These fungi attack various parts of the body and lead to the following conditions:

Symptoms and diagnosis

The most well known sign of ringworm is the appearance of one or more red raised itchy patches with defined edges. These patches are often lighter in the center, taking on the appearance of a ring. If the infected area involves the scalp or beard area, then bald patches may become evident. If the nails are affected, they may thicken, discolor, and finally crumble.

Doctors can diagnose ringworm on sight, or they may take a skin scraping. This is examined under a microscope, or put on an agar plate in a microbiology laboratory and allowed to grow. Some of the fungi fluoresce under a black light examination.

Treatment and prevention

Over-the-counter medications are usually effective at treating ringworm, often clearing it up within four weeks. The skin should be kept clean and dry while antifungal medications such as those containing Miconazole and Clotrimazole are applied to the skin. Sheets and nightclothes should be washed daily during treatment, to prevent re-infection. If the condition persists, a physician should be consulted, who will often prescribe antifungal pills. These oral treatments are necessary in the case of scalp infections.

To avoid contracting a ringworm infection, keep skin and hair clean and dry. Always clean clothing and personal items (such as combs) between uses, and allow them to dry sufficiently. Do not share clothing or personal items with other people. Wear shoes at the gym or swimming pool. Since animal-human transmission is common, avoid touching animals that exhibit bald patches of skin.

See also

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