Ring worm symptoms are never pleasant and there is no quick cure. It is important to identify ring worm before attempting to treat the symptoms. Commonly known as ring worm, or ringworm, this irritating and itchy skin condition is not caused by a worm at all. Instead, ringworm is a fungus that is highly contagious among humans, even before symptoms begin to appear. It is also a common condition transferred from animals, especially young puppies and kittens, as well as contaminated surfaces.
When ringworm, which is also known as tinea, appears on the skin, initial symptoms may appear as reddish, raised circles. The center typically is a normal skin tone. Sometimes, the rash appears as inflamed, clustered bumps. The area is itchy and may develop scales that will begin to blister. In time, the blisters begin to ooze, peel, and crack. Main complications include bacterial infections from scratching, along with spread of the ringworm to other body parts.
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Typically, ringworm symptoms will appear on the neck, arms, legs, and torso as (tinea corporis). This fungus, however, prefers darker, moist environments. Ringworm can become much more unpleasant as it spreads. Infestation can literally appear anywhere on the body. In the groin, it is known as jock itch (tinea cruris) or “groin ringworm.” When the fungus appears on the feet (tinea pedis), we know it as “athlete’s foot.” Ring worm also likes bearded areas and, here, it is referred to as “barber’s itch.”
Ringworm fungi can cause unsightly symptoms in fingernails and toenails. If allowed to multiply, which it does rapidly, the nailbed can become brittle, yellow, thickened, and will eventually disintegrate. Athlete’s foot and ringworm of the nails is only transmitted among humans.
When ringworm attacks the scalp (tinea capitis), large clumps of hair will become fragile and fall out. When these symptoms occur, it is best to seek treatment from a physician. Advanced medical treatment is also recommended for barber’s itch. Ringworm symptoms on other parts of the body can many times be resolved with over-the-counter medications. Individual sufferers should see improved results after approximately two-four weeks. If even mild ringworm symptoms do not improve in that time, then a professional can prescribe stronger topical or oral medications.
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No one is immune from ring worm, although some individuals show resistance with few or no symptoms. Even those who have experienced ringworm and received successful treatment may contract the fungus again. Symptoms can begin to occur within 4-10 days for skin fungi and between 10-14 days following contact for scalp conditions. Prevention includes wearing shoes in public areas, especially showers; never sharing towels, linens, or clothing; and avoiding contact with animals that exhibit bald spots.