Ringworm of the Face (Tinea Faciale) is caused not by a worm but a fungus. Ringworm can appear anywhere on the body and is characterized by red, round lesions with varying degrees of hair loss or folliculitis. In the olden days, people believed these lesions were caused by a worm underneath the skin; hence the name ‘ringworm’ came to be used for it. The moniker has stuck and the contagious skin condition is still known as ringworm today.
Other names for ringworm are ‘Tinea’ and Dermatophytosis.
Tinea Faciale and contact sports
Athletes and sports persons like wrestlers and swimmers are more susceptible to ringworm infections owing to the fact that they have greater chances of coming in contact with other infected people. Ringworm of the face can even spread through infected pets. The fungus thrives on warm and moist/sweaty skin and can spread quickly to other parts of the body.
Following factors mainly contribute to facial ringworm infection:
- Close contact with infected person/pets
- Sharing of personal items like towels, combs, brushes, pillow covers etc
- Using areas like swimming pools, shower cubicles in gyms, etc or walking on floors used by infected people can also contribute to the spread of skin ringworm infections.
Signs and Symptoms of ringworm of the face
- Ringworm of the face appears in the form of red circular patches with scaly borders on the cheeks, forehead and neck region.
- These patches get bigger and the center appears to heal leaving a red ring-like appearance surrounding it.
- There may be breakage of hair at the shaft in the affected region as a result of which the patches appear shaved, scaly and crusty.
- The circular patches vary in size from individual to individual.
Diagnosis and treatment of facial ringworm
Not all kinds of patchy, red and circular bumps are ringworm infections, so it is vital to see a doctor/ dermatologist instead of simply opting for self treatment with topical anti-fungal medicines. Doctors will do a simple test to determine if it is indeed a fungal infection. Treatment usually consists of oral and topical anti fungal medicines. Prescription based Naftifine Hydrochloride 1% cream or gels are known to be effective in treating tinea faciale but its use near the eyes must be strictly avoided.
Following steps must also be taken to prevent and restrict the ringworm of the face:
- Continue taking/applying the medicines as prescribed by the dermatologist/doctor even if the infection appears to get better. Failure to do so can cause the Tinea Faciale to recur.
- Keep the face, hair and nails very clean.
- Trim facial hair/ beard, if any.
- After bathing, dry the face and body thoroughly
- Avoid sharing towels, combs and other personal items with others
- Stay away from contact sports, swimming pools, gyms etc especially if you have fungal infection on the feet. Use showering shoes if you have to use these areas.
- Sports men and athletes should wear quick-dry socks to keep feet dry.
- Use a fungicidal agent to clean bathrooms, sinks, tubs and other common areas used by family members
- Avoid contact with family members until the infection has cleared.
- Control and treat the dermatophytic infections in pets in order to prevent getting ringworm of the face.