It is a fungal infection that develops in the top layer of skin. The name comes from the appearance of the associated rash, which presents as a flat, scaly area on the skin that may be red and itchy and eventually develops a clear outer ring that is irregular in shape, resembling the outline of a worm or snake.
In some cases, there may be several of these ring shaped patches that overlap. This is just one of several potential fungal infections. It is closely related to the others, including Athlete’s Foot, Jock Itch and Ringworm of the scalp.
What causes ringworm of the body?
Tinea corporis is a fungus caused by tiny, mold-like parasites that live within the outer layer of your skin. The condition is quite contagious and is spread through infected pets or through direct contact with infected individuals. Most cases are acquired from household pets, though skin-to-skin contact with an infected individual can also be a common cause.
The fungus can also be spread through contact with personal items such as bed sheets, towels and combs that have been used by an infected individual. In very rare cases, contact with infected soil can be the trigger to spread tinea corporis from one individual to another.
What are your best treatment options?
Tinea corporis usually clears up quickly when anti-fungal medicines are applied twice daily to the skin. Other natural options to try include garlic, tea tree oil and apple cider vinegar. You can learn how to apply all of these online.
If natural options don’t work, you can try an antifungal cream and/or oral medication, but you need to continue them for one week after the lesions have cleared because there may be fungus under the skin which is not visible with the unaided eye. Most treatment failures occur because patients stop the medication premarurely.
If these medications don’t work for you, your dermatologist may recommend other antifungals including Lotrimin AF and Lamisil AT.
You can help prevent recurrences by having household pets treated also. Since this is the most common way for the condition to spread, having your pets regularly tested for ringworm is essential. Aside from treating affected pets, you can also prevent spreading the condition by avoiding direct skin-to-skin contact with infected individuals, avoiding participating in sports that involve such contact, like wrestling, and avoiding sharing personal items such as clothing, towels and hairbrushes.
It is also extremely important to remain clean at all times. Washing your hands frequently can help to prevent the spread of the fungus, as can avoiding sharing common spaces such as locker rooms, gyms and child care centers.
Keep in mind that tinea corporis is only one cause of circular lesions with clear centers and scaly edges. If your lesions do not improve over the course of time, make sure you schedule a follow up visit with your doctor to reassess the situation.