Ringworm refers to a fungal infection that affects your skin surface. The fungus may give a round spot on your skin. A proper diagnosis of the affected area helps in treating the infection efficiently. Your doctor may look at your skin scrapings under a microscope and perform culture tests to differentiate ringworms from other skin conditions.
Earlier, it was believed that worms cause ringworms, but eventually, researchers found their connection to the fungus. In medical terms, ringworm is referred to as tinea. Doctors add a suffix to tinea to indicate the location of this fungal infection. For example, tinea capitis refers to scalp ringworm, whereas tinea pedis refers to fungal infection in the feet.
The symptoms rely on the infection area. For example, if you have a skin infection, you may experience the following symptoms:
- Red, itchy, and scaly skin patches
- Skin blisters and pus
- Skin patches that look like a ring with red outer corners
- Patches with raised and defined edges
If you have tinea capitis, a scalp infection, you may experience hair fall around the infection site. Moreover, you may get bald patches at the infection site. Similarly, if you have tinea unguium, a nail infection, you may experience thick, discoloured, and fragile nails. The nail surface may become chipped and break easily.
If you have a skin rash that remains untreated after applying over-the-counter antifungal products, you may talk to your doctor and take prescribed medicines.
Fungal infections, primarily ringworms, are caused by three significant fungi. These are Trichophyton, Microsporum, and Epidermophyton. These fungi live in soil, and when you come in direct contact with such soil, you get exposed to ringworms. In addition, it is a contagious infection and can spread through an infected human or animal.
Different fungi cause ringworms; however, the common fungal infections are:
- Scalp ringworm
Another term for scalp ringworm is tinea capitis and it majorly affects children. It starts as scaling in the scalp and gradually leads to an itchy and flaky scalp. Moreover, it can cause bald patches on your scalp.
- Body ringworm
In medical terms, it is known as tinea corporis. It appears as a round patch on the skin with a red outer edge.
- Jock itch
In medical terms, it is called tinea cruris. It majorly affects the groin, inner thighs, and buttocks of men and teenage boys.
- Athlete’s foot
It is an infection in the foot and spreads majorly in people who roam barefooted in public spaces. For example, if you walk barefoot in a park, locker room, public swimming area, or washroom, you will likely get ringworm infections.
Ringworms reside on the skin crust. However, they can spread quickly to another person. The common ways by which this fungal infection spreads include:
- Human to human
If you face an infected person directly, you may get ringworm infections.
- Animal to human
Animals also get affected by ringworms. If you touch an infected animal, you may develop ringworms. It is most common in cows, dogs, and cats.
- Object to human
Infected objects can cause ringworms in a human. For example, if you have touched an object that an infected person or animal has used, you may get infected by ringworms.
- Soil to human
Ringworms live in soil, and if you contact the infected ground, you are more likely to develop ringworms.
Moreover, warm climatic conditions, tight clothing, and weak immune systems may also lead to ringworm infections.
It is easy to diagnose ringworm through a physical examination. To confirm the case, your doctor may take skin scrapings from the infection site. These scrapings are studied under a microscope to prove the existence of ringworms. Moreover, your doctor may use a black light to examine the skin around the infection.
You can undergo a few tests to confirm a fungal infection. The tests include:
- A skin biopsy or fungal culture. During a skin biopsy, your doctor collects samples from the affected area and sends them to an investigation lab. Moreover, they may take blister discharge or pus to confirm fungal infections.
- Another well-recognised test includes the KOH exam. In this process, your doctor will take the skin scrapings and dilute them with KOH (potassium hydroxide) solution. The solution segregates normal skin cells from the fungal elements. Then, it is diagnosed under a microscope to get an idea about the infection.
When your doctor examines your skin condition under a black light, you may see a glow on your skin. It happens because fungi react to the light and start glowing. There are many antifungal products that claim effective results. However, if these products do not show any positive sign in two weeks, you must consult a doctor.
There are different over-the-counter antifungal products and conventional medicines that provide relief in ringworms. However, these medicines do not work on the infection roots. Homeopathy is best suited to treat the underlying causes of ringworms. If you want a safe and cost-effective treatment that cures ringworms permanently, you may opt for homeopathy.
In conventional treatment, you need to take oral antifungal and anti-inflammatory medications to cure ringworm infections. Moreover, you may need to undergo topical therapy to promote healing. It has some side effects that include cutaneous infections and drug resistance. Prolonged illness may lead to self-doubt and reduced self-confidence. Moreover, it may hamper your well being.
Homeopathy is a safe alternative for conventional treatment. It provides a permanent solution to skin rashes and fungal infections. Moreover, it does not compromise your quality of life and give an effective result.