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Ringworm. You might have treated it wrongly.

Ringworm (Tinea) infection represents a series of fungal skin disorders that are common in society. The responsible fungi are called dermatophytes. The term ‘ringworm’ has nothing to do with any worms. But it is the distinct appearance of the skin lesions – ring-shaped or oval patches. In today’s article, we shall highlight why a few people find it impervious to get rid of ringworm infections.

Ringworm infections occur globally. They affect any part of the body. Depending on the body part, the disease acquires a name, i.e., scalp (tinea capitis), face (t. faciei), hands (t. manuum), feet or athlete’s foot (t. pedis), trunk and neck (t. corporis), and groin (t. cruris). Direct contact with an infected person or an animal (cat, dog) is usually the source of infection.

Several types of dermatophytes (fungi) exist that attack the upper skin layer to cause ringworm. However, the most common ones are from the Trichophyton, Epidermophyton, and Microsporum genera – Trichophyton rubrum being the most common causative species, accounting for up to 80% of the cases.

This is a photomicrograph of the fungus Microsporum canis using the lactophenol cotton blue staining technique, 1969. M. canis, a zoophilic dermatophyte often found in cats and dogs. It is a common cause of tinea corporis and tinea capitis in humans. Other dermatophytes are included in the genera Epidermophyton and Trichophyton. Image courtesy CDC/Dr. Leanor Haley. (Photo by Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images).

Regardless of the body part involved, skin itching and scaling (or flaking) are the most common symptoms. Initially, a raised ring-shaped or oval skin patch appears that tends to itch. Tinea cruris causes a severe itch with a skin rash that grows out in the thigh creases. The skin rash often takes on a colour that is distinct from the surrounding skin.

Tinea pedis (athlete’s foot) affects the skin in-between the toes and the feet bottoms. Severe itching, rash, scaling, dead skin, blistering, burning sensation, and a pungent odour: form the hallmark symptoms. The athlete’s foot increases the tendency of the affected skin to flake, peel, or crack.

Doctors diagnose tinea by examining your affected body part, looking for characteristic ring-shaped skin patches. In cases of uncertainty, they may scrap a skin sample and send it to the laboratory for special testing.

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Treatment of ringworm is often easily accomplished with over-the-counter medications: antifungal creams, powder, or ointment. If these don’t work, the doctors may prescribe a few oral drugs to clear the fungus. The catch is in the treatment duration: the fungus doesn’t die after a few days of therapy. It usually clears after 2 to 8 weeks of treatment. It is noteworthy that treatment duration continues for seven days after the skin lesions physically resolve. Attempts to stop medications immediately after the skin patches disappear risk reinfection. The dermatophytes are still residing under the skin.

Many people often complain about the ineffectiveness of the creams or ointment and forget that the crucial part of ringworm treatment lies in its duration, as stated above. It is prudent to acknowledge the side effects of some of the oral antifungal drugs, especially liver toxicity. It is, therefore, imperative that you only take such medications with a prescription.

In managing tinea infections, it is prudent to maintain the utmost good hygiene, keep the infected skin dry and clean, and wear loose-fitting underwear in case of groin infections. For tinea pedis, cotton socks and well-ventilated sneakers will do the magic. Diligently apply medicines and refrain from rubbing or scratching the affected areas. Lastly, do not shower in public places, and avoid sharing clothes to prevent spread.

For more information, we found the article by Yee G and Al Aboud AM crucial during our research. You can as well check out the American Academy of Dermatology for a detailed inside analysis.

 

IAmDrSsekandi

Dr A. M. Ssekandi is a medical officer, researcher, content creator, author, and founder of ssekandima.com. He does private practice with a public touch. He is a certified digital marketer. He has earned certificates in Understanding Clinical Research and Writing in Sciences from the University of Cape Town and Stanford University respectively. He also has a certificate of Good Clinical Practice from https://gcp.nidatraining.org/

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