Tinea Corporis or ringworm of the body is a fungal infection affecting several body parts other than hands, legs, feet and genital areas. In most patients, the infection is transmitted through direct contact with an infected animal or human. Diagnosis of ringworm infection is often difficult since many other skin conditions cause inflammatory lesions similar to it.
What is ringworm of the body and what are the symptoms?
Ringworm is not caused by a worm; it is caused by a fungus (which is a plant that cannot be seen by the naked eye). The infection begins in the form of a red rash that spreads rapidly all through the body. It may be characterized by tiny red pimples which spread out and form a red oval or circular lesion. The edges of the oval appear raised and scaly similar to a ‘worm under the skin’. The itchy rash might appear anywhere on the body and can spread to healthy areas.
Summary of symptoms of Tinea Corporis:
- Dermatological exam shows red, itchy exanthema (rash)
- Eczematous papules and plaque lesions might be seen on arms, trunk, back etc.
- The lesions are approximately 0.5 to 1.5cm in diameter
- Outer edges of the rash are well defined and raised.
- Scrapings of the scaly rash observed under a microscope in 20%KOH reveals the presence of fungal spores.
- Itchiness, blistering and inflammation may be observed depending upon the patient’s immunity as well as the extent of follicular invasion.
How is Tinea Corporis treated?
Anti fungal skin creams and shampoos are commonly prescribed for the treatment of Tinea Corporis. These must be applied as follows:
- Wash and dry your hands before applying the anti fungal cream on affected parts. Apply a thin layer and spread the cream evenly over the rash. Always start from the outer edge of the rash and move inwards. Repeat these steps twice daily.
- Always wash and dry your hands after application.
Oral anti fungal medications may also be prescribed particularly if the rash does not respond to skin creams or is too extensive or is present in a region where the body hair prevents the cream from penetrating the skin. This includes 250 mg per day of Terbinafine taken for a few weeks or as prescribed. Ketoconazole based shampoos or soaps might be recommended for washing.
Most anti fungal medications take about a month to show results. In some cases, the infection might come back so do not hesitate to see your doctor if it does. Also, continue taking the medicines and applying the skin cream even if the rash appears to improve. Failure to do so can bring back the infection.
Preventing ringworm infections
Ringworm of the body is a contagious condition which can spread to other people if direct contact occurs.
These precautions must be taken to prevent Tinea Corporis:
- Bathe regularly. Keep the skin dry and clean as the fungus thrives in moist and humid conditions.
- Wear clean clothes every day. Avoid tight fitting clothes. Change underwear daily.
- Clothes and towels must be washed in hot water with mild bleach or detergent.
- Wash your hands if you come in contact with an infected person. Family members must avoid direct contact with them as far as possible.
- Avoid sharing towels, clothes, socks, combs and other personal items.
- Children having the tendency to get ringworm of the body infections must be educated about cleanliness and hygiene. They may return to school after starting the medication and applying cream as prescribed. They must be taught not to touch or scratch the rash. Fingernails should be trimmed and kept short as far as possible.
- Wash the tub, bathroom, or sink regularly if you or a loved one has Tinea Corporis.
- Do not cover the ringworm rash with bandages.
- Apply anti fungal powders to keep the skin dry and free of sweat. This is essential to prevent recurrence.
If, despite these preventive measures, the Tinea Corporis returns or is accompanied by a fever, then do not hesitate to return to your healthcare provider.