My last article, ”Childhood Diseases – On a Mission to Educate: Hand, Foot, & Mouth Disease“ we learned that Hand, Foot, & Mouth Disease (HFMD) is a contagious but mild viral infection that is commonly diagnosed in infants & young children. It is caused by the coxsackievirus and it can be spread from person to person through direct contact. HFMD symptoms include fever, painful sores in the mouth, rash on the palms of the hand, soles of the feet and occasionally on the buttocks. Eventually the rash turns into bumps or blisters. This disease is most common during the summer and fall. Good hand washing can help to prevent the spread of HFMD. Treatment is generally supportive. Today I would like to move onto another childhood illness called Ringworm.
What Is Ringworm?
Ringworm is a fungal infection that develops on the top layer of the skin. According to Mayo Clinic (https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/ringworm-body/symptoms-causes/syc-20353780) Ringworm is characterized by a red circular rash with clearer skin in the middle. Ringworm got its name because of this appearance on the skin and it should be stressed that there is no actual worm involved in this condition. Ringworm is very contagious and can easily be passed from person to person.
According to Medline Plus (https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/001439.htm) Ringworm is common among children but it can also affect people of all ages. As stated above, it is caused by a fungus which thrives in warm and moist areas. Ringworm is also called Tinea Corporis and is closely related to Athlete’s Foot & Jock Itch. Ringworm can affect the skin in various parts of the body:
- Beard (tinea barbae)
- Body (tinea corporis)
- Feet (tinea pedis) known as athlete's foot
- Groin area (tinea cruris) known as jock itch
- Scalp (tinea capitis)
What Causes Ringworm
According to Health Line (https://www.healthline.com/health/ringworm#pictures2) there are three different types of fungi that can cause this infection: Trichophyton, Microsporum, & Epidermophyton. “It’s possible that these fungi may live for an extended period as spores in soil. Humans and animals can contract ringworm after direct contact with this soil. The infection can also spread through contact with infected animals or humans. The infection is commonly spread among children and by sharing items that may not be clean.”
How Do You Get Ringworm?
Ringworm is highly contagious and according to Web MD (https://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/what-you-should-know-about-ringworm#1) you can catch it in any of the following ways:
- From another person. Ringworm often spreads by skin-to-skin contact.
- From your pets. Rubbing or grooming Sparky? Wash your hands when you’re finished. It’s also very common in cows.
- By touching objects. The fungus that causes ringworm can linger on surfaces, clothes, towels, and in combs and brushes.
- From soil. If you’re working or standing barefoot in soil that’s infected with the fungus that causes ringworm, you can get it, too.
Symptoms of Ringworm
Basic general symptoms of Ringworm on the skin, according to Health Line (https://www.healthline.com/health/ringworm#pictures2), are:
- Red, itchy, scaly, or raised patches
- Patches that develop blisters or begin to ooze
- Patches that may be redder on the outside edges or resemble a ring
- Patches with edges that are defined and raised
Health Line stated that symptoms of ringworm can vary depending on where you are infected. Basically there are four major types of ringworm:
- Ringworm of the scalp (tinea capitis) often starts as small sores that develop into itchy, scaly bald patches. It is most common among children.
- Ringworm of the body (tinea corporis) often appears as patches with the characteristic round “ring” shape.
- Jock itch (tinea cruris) refers to ringworm infection of the skin around the groin, inner thighs, and buttocks. It is most common in men and adolescent boys.
- Athlete’s foot (tinea pedis) is the common name for ringworm infection of the foot. It is frequently seen in people who go barefoot in public places where the infection can spread, such as locker rooms, showers, and swimming pools.
Treatment For Ringworm
Web MD stated that the ringworm infection is treated depending on where it is located and how bad it is. In most cases, the doctor may recommend an over-the-counter (OTC) medicine that can be purchased from a drugstore. “If the ringworm is on your skin, an OTC antifungal cream, lotion, or powder may work just fine. Some of the most popular ones are clotrimazole (Lotrimin, Mycelex) and miconazole.” In order to kill the fungus it is generally recommended that you use the medicine on your skin for 2 – 4 weeks. This is to ensure that the fungus is gone and also to lower the chance of it coming back.
According to Health Line the doctor may also recommend that you care for infections at home by doing some of the following behaviors:
- Avoid clothing that irritates the infected area
- Cover it with a bandage if you’re unable to avoid clothing that irritates the area
- Wash bedding and clothes daily during an infection to help disinfect your surroundings
- Clean and dry your skin regularly
Risk Factors of Getting Ringworm
The following list by Mayo Clinic are things that make you at a higher risk for getting ringworm of the body:
- Live in a warm climate
- Have close contact with an infected person or animal
- Share clothing, bedding or towels with someone who has a fungal infection
- Participate in sports that feature skin-to-skin contact, such as wrestling
- Wear tight or restrictive clothing
- Have a weakened immune system
Mayo clinic stated that it is difficult to prevent Ringworm because the fungus that causes it is very common and very contagious even before its symptoms appear. But there are some measures one can take to reduce your risks of getting ringworm:
- Educate yourself and others. Be aware of the risk of ringworm from infected people or pets. Tell your children about ringworm, what to watch for and how to avoid the infection.
- Keep clean. Wash your hands often to avoid the spread of infection. Keep common or shared areas clean, especially in schools, child care centers, gyms and locker rooms.
- Stay cool and dry. Don't wear thick clothing for long periods of time in warm, humid weather. Avoid excessive sweating.
- Avoid infected animals. The infection often looks like a patch of skin where fur is missing. In some cases, though, you may not notice any signs of the disease. Ask your veterinarian to check your pets and domesticated animals for ringworm.
- Don't share personal items. Don't let others use your clothing, towels, hairbrushes or other personal items. Refrain from borrowing these items from others as well.
A Word About Athlete’s Foot, Jock Itch, & Ringworm of the Scalp
According to Cleveland Clinic (https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/athletes-foot-jock-itch-and-ringworm) athlete’s foot, jock itch and ringworm of the scalp are all dealt with differently so I will briefly cover these three areas based on Cleveland Clinic literature:
Athlete’s Foot is a common type of ringworm where the fungus thrives in the warm, damp and dark areas between the toes. It is most common in teenagers and adult males.
Symptoms of athlete’s foot:
- Itching and burning between the toes
- Red, scaly, cracked skin between the toes
- Raw rash that oozes when scratched
- Blisters (in severe cases)
- Unpleasant odor from the feet
- A rash or scaling of the bottom of the feet (sole)
Treatment of athlete’s foot:
- Rinse and dry your feet, especially between the toes.
- Apply the cream to the top and bottom of both feet, the sides of both feet, between all toes, and around the nails.
- Continue to apply the cream twice a day for 2 - 4 weeks until the rash clears.
Over-the counter antifungal cream or powder (Tinactin, Micatin, Lotrimin-AF, or Lamisil) can be used to treat athlete’s foot.
Prevention activities for athlete’s foot:
- Bathe your feet regularly, using soap between the toes.
- Keep your feet dry and clean.
- Wear comfortable shoes and socks made from natural fibers such as wool and cotton.
- Dry feet completely before putting on socks and shoes.
- Use an antifungal powder, lotion, or spray on a regular basis if you are prone to athlete's foot.
Jock Itch is a “fungal infection of the groin, upper thighs and/or buttock. It is caused by several types of fungi (dermatophytes) that live on the dead tissues of the skin, hair, and nails. This condition is more common among athletes, but anyone can get it.”
Symptoms of jock itch:
- Burning, itchy red rash in the groin and upper, inner thighs, or anal area.
- The skin in this area may be scaly and the border may be covered with very small blisters.
Causes of jock itch:
- Sweating heavily
- Hot and humid weather
- Friction from wearing tight clothes for a long period of time (such as bathing suits)
- Sharing clothes with someone who has this condition
- Certain health conditions, such as diabetes, obesity, and disorders of the immune system
Treatment of jock itch: Use an over-the-counter antifungal medication that is recommended by your doctor. Medication should be applied twice daily until the rash goes away. If it does not improve or go away after two weeks of treatment, contact your doctor.
Prevention activities for jock itch:
- Wear loose fitting cotton underwear and pants.
- Keep the groin area clean and dry.
- Make sure to fully dry all areas after showering.
- Do not share personal items with others, including towels and undergarments.
- Treat athlete’s foot to prevent spread to the groin.
- Put on your underwear before your socks to prevent the spread from feet to groin.
- Use an antifungal powder.
Ringworm of the Scalp
Ringworm of the Scalp is a fungal infection of the scalp that is more common in children who usually get it from an infected pet, contact with another child who has ringworm, or from an infected surface. “Ringworm of the scalp typically looks like scaly, itchy, red, circular bald spots. The bald spots can spread and grow in size if the infection is left untreated.”
Symptoms of ringworm of the scalp:
- Round patches of hair loss that slowly increase in size. The rash may be slightly raised, scaly, or have a black-dot with a stubbly appearance.
- Scaly patches which are swollen and pink with blisters. The scaly patches may develop a white pus-filled center that clears, leaving a scaly ring. This type of scalp ringworm is more common among African-American children and can lead to scarring and hair loss.
- A dry, crusty scalp that flakes like dandruff in children who have outgrown cradle cap.
- Areas of the scalp with very brittle hair which is easily pulled out.
Treatment of ringworm of the scalp:
Ringworm of the scalp cannot be treated with any type of lotions so the doctor will have to prescribe an oral medication which is usually taken once a day for 6-8 weeks. In certain cases, the doctor will also prescribe an antifungal shampoo or an over-the-counter dandruff shampoo that contains selenium sulfide (i.e. Selsun Blue). This shampoo does not cure the ringworm but it can help to prevent the ringworm from spreading.
Prevention activities for ringworm of the scalp:
- Avoid braiding hair tightly or using gels on the hair. (Gels may encourage fungus to cling to the scalp.)
- Limit contact with children who have ringworm.
- Limit contact with personal items of children who have ringworm, such as clothing, hats, towels, bedding, and hair care items.
- Avoid infected animals. These animals may have patches of skin with missing fur. Household pets with these signs should be taken to the veterinarian for further evaluation.
In conclusion Ringworm is a fungal infection that develops on the top layer of the skin. It is characterized by a red circular rash with clearer skin in the middle. Ringworm got its name because of this appearance on the skin and it should be stressed that there is no actual worm involved in this condition. Ringworm is very contagious and can easily be passed from person to person. It is common among children but it can also affect people of all ages & animals. There are four major areas of the body that ringworm can affect: ringworm of the scalp, ringworm of the body, jock itch and athlete’s foot. Treatment can vary depending on the affected area but in most cases a topical medication such as an antifungal cream, ointment, or spray may be recommended by the doctor. Most cases of ringworm get resolved within 2-4 weeks.
I hope you learned something from this article about Ringworm. There are many resources on the internet if you need more specific information. I will continue this series with another childhood disease post. I hope you will continue to join me in this quest to learn about these illnesses that children usually encounter when they are young. Thank-you for reading my article on ”Childhood Diseases – On a Mission to Educate: Ringworm”. If you would like to follow me, please check HERE
These are my previous articles. if you are interested in reading it:
Neuroplasticity: Hope For People With Anxiety?
Neuroplasticity: How to deal with Anxiety Disorders Like Panic Attacks
Neuroplasticity: Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT)
Neuroplasticity: Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy
Neuroplasticity: Self-Directed Neuroplasticity Exercises
Neuroplasticity: Music & Music Therapy
Neuroplasticity: Meditation and Anxiety
Neuroplasticity: Brainwave Entrainment
Anxiety and CBD: An Introduction to Cannabinoid
Childhood Injuries: Concussions
Childhood Injuries: Post Concussion Syndrome & Recovery & Safety Measures To Prevent Concussions
Youth Sports: The Benefits of Youth Sports & Increase Incidents of Concussions
Are You Ready For Some Football? - The Continuing Saga of Concussion & Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy in Former NFL Players & Other Concussion Victims
An American Tragedy: Story of Mike Webster, Pro Hall of Famer & CTE
Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy – The Tragedy Continues: Not Just In the NFL
Should Our Children Be Playing Contact Sports or Not?: Dr. Bennet Omalu
Teachers & Parents Beware of Impetigo: I Gave It To My Teacher
Childhood Diseases –On a Mission to Learn: Chicken Pox
Childhood Diseases – On a Mission to Educate: Strep Throat
Childhood Diseases – On a Mission to Educate: Fifth Disease
Childhood Diseases – On a Mission to Educate: Measles
Childhood Diseases – On a Mission to Educate: Mumps
Childhood Diseases – On a Mission to Educate: Croup
Childhood Diseases – On a Mission to Educate: Pertussis (Whooping Cough)
Childhood Diseases – On a Mission to Educate: Asthma
Childhood Diseases – On a Mission to Educate: Tetanus
Childhood Diseases – On a Mission to Educate: Ear Infections
Childhood Diseases – On a Mission to Educate: Reye’s Syndrome
Childhood Diseases – On a Mission to Educate: Kawasaki Disease
Childhood Diseases – On a Mission to Educate: Hand, Foot, & Mouth Disease