Ringworm or tinea infection is a highly contagious fungal infection that can cause red ring like scaly rashes all over the body. Ringworm generally affects the groin, the skin between the toes, the nail bed, hair and scalp, beard, and also hand, legs and abdomen. You might be wondering why ringworm is spreading all throughout your body. If so, read on.
How does it start?
Ask any ringworm sufferer how his/her infection started and they will likely have the same story to tell. It all starts with a single small red patch on one part of the body which then flares and spreads outwards leaving clear patches of skin which are surrounded by raised red itchy scales. The first patch is approximately 2- 3 cm in diameter, sometimes even lesser, but it continues to grow and spread fast. Many people mistaken the rash to be a result of an allergic reaction and ignore it. Often times, the rash is not itchy, at least when it first appears, so majority of sufferers do not even know it is there.
A few weeks following the first patch, few more patches start appearing on the back, arms, legs, thighs, and groin and between the toes.Some patients think it is eczema and apply topical creams that seem to do more harm than good.
Many patients are devastated and also a bit shocked to see their rash continuing to spread and spread despite applying all kinds of topical skin creams. When they go to their dermatologist for a second visit, they are usually diagnosed as having ringworm and put on Antifungal oral medicines. They may even be prescribed anti fungal creams.
The patients go home relieved believing they finally have a diagnosis and that all will be well in the world again. They take the nausea inducing Terbinafine anti fungal tablets for weeks and apply the cream all over the rash diligently-but to no avail. The rash just continues to grow and grow and spread all over the body!
Why does ringworm spread despite treatment?
In majority of the cases there are two reasons why ringworm tends to spread all over the body:
- The condition is misdiagnosed
- The ringworm may have developed resistance to the antifungal cream.
Many rashes look very similar to ringworm rashes. Some examples include: eczema, psoriasis, scabies etc. Another skin disease called Pityriasis Rosea is also similar symptomatically to ringworm. Naturally, in such cases, the rash does not respond to treatment. You will need antibiotics as well as a shot of steroids to treat Pityriasis Rosea . So, if your ringworm is appearing to spread despite oral and topical antifungal medications, seek a second or even a third medical opinion.
The prescribed ringworm on the body treatment will not work unless there is a proper diagnosis. The dermatologist must take a skin sample to ensure that the infection is indeed caused by dermatophytes. Otherwise the ringworm on your back and body will continue to spread to healthy parts of the body.
Why is my ringworm spreading? Because it is contagious!
The fact that ringworm spreads rapidly shows that it is a highly contagious disease. You might want to stay at home a few days to curb the spread of the skin condition. Children are especially prone to such skin infections thanks to other infected kids in schools and daycares. Therefore, treatment must be started as soon as diagnosis is confirmed. One must avoid sharing combs, towels, hair brushes, razors and other personal items with others. Family members of infected people are at highest risk of developing ringworm. Ringworm spreading fast can also be curbed by washing all items of infected person in hot water and bleach solution. As stated before, one must not use the infected person’s towels, clothing etc.
Continue taking all medication as prescribed by the dermatologist to stop ringworm from spreading. Over the counter medicines are also quite effective in reducing the spread of ringworm including Lamisil, Micatin, Tinactin and Lotramin.
Some important points to keep ringworm from spreading all over the body:
- After bathing or swimming dry the body thoroughly especially in between the legs and toes.
- Expose the skin to the air so that it naturally dries. Moisture is the number one culprit that causes the growth and spread of tinea infections.
- Avoid staying in wet swimming clothes. Change and shower immediately with antifungal soap. Wash all sports/swim gear in hot water and mild bleach solution. Wash all clothing, bathmats, and towels in hot water.
- Use Persil Hygiene Rinse to rinse clothes after they have been washed in detergent. Normal detergent and cold water will not kill all spores of the fungus, thereby causing it to spread. So use the Hygiene Rinse and break the cycle of infection and re-infection.
- Wear cotton underwear and socks to help absorb moisture better than synthetic clothes
- Use antiperspirant deodorant to reduce sweating that enhances fugal growth
- Check family animals for Tinea infections. If noticed, get them treated with vet approved products.
- Do not wear sweaty shoes –allow them to dry completely before wearing.
- Avoid excessive use of harsh soaps as they affect the PH balance of the skin causing excess growth of tinea causing it to spread rapidly. Some amount of good bacteria on the skin is needed as it can help balance ph of skin and curb candida and other fungal growth. Use Pinetarsol as it keeps skin acidic and thwarts fungi.
Treatment for optimal care of ringworm to stop it from spreading
- Use Lamisil or clotrimazole based cream on the rash once a day.
- Use Miconazole if you are itching all over.
- If your skin is burning hot, apply Lamisil dermgel to soothe the skin. This is like the antifungal cream but in gel form so that it cools the inflamed rashes.
- Lamisil Once – This is a onetime treatment for fungal growth on nails and under the nail bed. It forms a nail-polish like layer to curb the spread of fungus.
- You can use antifungal powders like Daktarin or Mycil powder/spray powder which is ideal for people who sweat a lot.
- You must use Selsun Blue or Nizoral shampoo for tinea on head and scalp at least 3 times a week.
- Apply 10% tea tree oil based creams to the toe fungus that appears to be spreading rapidly. Make sure you wash your feet thoroughly and dry them before application. Follow this ringworm remedy once a day at least until ringworm clears.
If the ringworm lesions continue to spread or new ones appear to develop despite 2 weeks of treatment, see a doctor immediately. Ringworm spreading fast is common-but by following above mentioned precautions you can break its cycle!