Tinea Corporis

More commonly known as ringworm, tinea corporis, is a fungal infection of the body. The condition is caused by a mold-like fungus known as dermatophytes.

What Are The Causes and Who Is Likely To Get It?

A number of microorganisms live in the body including bacteria and various fungi. While some of these are good for the body, others can multiply rapidly and cause a variety of symptoms.

A rather common fungus infection of the body is tinea corporis or ringworm of the body. It is most commonly found in children, but people of all ages can be infected with it. A mold-like fungi called dermatophytes is the direct cause. Susceptibility to these fungi is increased through poor hygiene, allowing the skin to remain moist for long period of time and the occurrence of minor skin or nail injuries since the fungi thrive in warm and moist environments.

Tinea infections are contagious and can be transmitted to others through direct contact with infected areas or through contact with items that are infected such as combs, clothing or other areas that are exposed to the infected areas of a person’s body. The fungus can also be transmitted by pets that are infected with the fungus. The most common carriers of these fungi are felines.

What Are The Symptoms?

The site of the affected area with have itching. Any exposed body areas such as the arms, legs, face and trunk will have skin lesions or rash. The rash is usually ring-shaped and possible a reddened patch on those who have extremely dark or light skin. The border of the rash spreads as the center clears. The borders are often scaly and distinct.

How is A Diagnosis Made?

Diagnosis is made by a visual look by a physician in most cases based on the appearance of the skin. If diagnostic testing is used it may include the following:

A potassium hydroxide test which requires skin scrapings to be dissolved in KOH and then viewed under a microscope. The test has no pain involved and the results are available right away. In order to look for dermatophytes a skin lesion biopsy can be performed involving the microscopic examination of a culture.

What is The Treatment?

Keeping the skin clean and dry is one of the most important treatments. A topical over the counter anti-fungal cream that contains miconazole, clotrimazole or one of the similar ingredients may be used in addition to control the condition. More severe or chronic infections may require the use of oral antifungal medications or prescription strength topical antifungal creams in order to effectively treat the fungus that isn’t alleviated from over the counter treatments. For the treatment of secondary bacterial infections the use of antibiotics may be required. Any infected pets should also be given treatment.

Prognosis For Recovery

Ringworm responds to topical treatment in most cases and usually within a matter of four weeks. For resistant cases that don’t respond to topical treatments, oral antifungal medications may be required. As a part of ringworm there may be some complications. Various bacterial infections may be included in this such as cellulites, the spread of the infection to the feet, scalp, groin, or nails, other skin disorders and the possible side effects of the various medications. It is important for everyone to be aware of the existence of these complications even though not everyone will succumb to them. It is important to call your physician before any course of treatment if the ringworm doesn’t respond to a self-administered course of treatment after a few days.

How Can Tinea Corporis Be Prevented?

Adequate general hygiene is the best way to prevent ringworm. Avoiding contact with infected pets whenever possible is another good way to avoid infection. Clothing and other household items which may encounter others should be sanitized and completely dried before anyone else uses them to prevent the spread of the infection. After your hands have been in contact with any fungal infection you should thoroughly wash your hands, including that required to treat the infection. The best ways to not only prevent the spread of ringworm, but to prevent the infection from developing in the first place is the use of proper hygiene and cleansing. Not only will tinea corporis be prevented by keeping hands and surfaces free from germs, but many other fungi and bacterial infections will be prevented as well.

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