What is Ringworm (Tinea Corporis)?

Ringworm (tinea corporis) occurs as a result of infection by a dermatophyte fungus that preferentially colonizes the outer layer of the skin and parasitizes the keratin within the skin of the trunk, arms, and legs. The infection initially originates from the nails (tinea unguium) or the feet (tinea pedis). Ringworm is also zoonotic and can be contracted from cats and dogs (Microsporum canis) and cattle (T. verrucosum). It may appear suddenly or slowly extend out from a very mild and barely noticeable rash. The spread may become rapid and difficult to treat in moist areas, such as body folds.

What Does Ringworm Look Like?

Ringworm appears as an inflamed red patch that is often circular in appearance. The inside of the ring typically appears less inflamed or clear in appearance (although new rings may form within the center of an already “healed” ring.) It is extremely itchy and is most virulent in areas that possess sweat glands, such as the armpits, the area under the breast, groin, and other folds of the body. Tinea infections may become inflamed and form infected abscesses (kerions). These appear as a mass studded with pustules and similar in appearance to a boil, carbuncle, or cancer. When tinea corporis infects hair follicles, the characteristic pustules and nodules of majocchi granuloma appear. Ringworm is often confused with several other skin conditions of a non-fungal origin.

Ringworm Diagnosis and Treatment

Accurate diagnosis of ringworm is critical. A scraping of the affected skin area may be examined under a microscope and/or cultured to verify the origin of the rash. Most cases of ringworm can be successfully treated with a combination of prescription topical antifungals in conjunction with careful home care and hygiene practices. More complicated cases may require additional treatments such as oral antifungal agents and medical interventions. Ringworm is highly contagious and care should be taken to prevent its spread to others.

Contact Allegheny Advanced Dermatology Center to schedule an appointment. Call: (814) 944-7109.