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Tinea Corporis

What is tinea corporis?

Tinea corporis, more commonly known as ringworm, is a fungal infection of the body. A mold-like fungus known as dermatophytes causes the condition.

What are the causes and who is likely to get it?

The body is home to a number of microorganisms including bacteria and various fungi. Some of these are good for the body, but others have a tendency to multiply rapidly and cause a variety of symptoms.

Tinea corporis, or ringworm of the body, is a rather common fungus infection of the body. Though it is more commonly found in children, people of all ages can be infected with it. The direct cause is mold-like fungi called dermatophytes. Since fungi thrive in warm and most environments, susceptibility to these fungi is increased through poor hygiene, allowing the skin to remain moist for long periods of time (i.e. sweating), and the occurrence of minor skin or nail injuries.

All of the tinea infections are contagious and as such, can be transmitted to another person by direct contact with infected areas or through contact with infected items such as combs, clothing, or other areas that are exposed to the infected areas of a person’s body. It is also possible for the fungus to be transmitted by pets that are infected with the fungus. Felines are the most common carriers of these fungi.

What are the symptoms?

Itching will occur at the site of the affected area
Skin lesions or rash will occur on any exposed body areas such as the arms, legs, face, and trunk. The rash will be ring-shaped, and possibly a reddened patch on those with extremely dark or light skin. The borders of the rash will advance and spread as the centers clear. These borders will appear scaly and distinct.

Ringworm, tinea corporis on the leg

How is a diagnosis made?

In most cases, diagnosis is made by a visual look by a physician, based on the appearance of the skin. In the event that diagnostic testing is used, it may include the following:

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

What is the treatment?

One of the most important treatments is to be sure to keep the skin clean and dry. In addition, a topical over the counter anti-fungal cream that contains miconazole, clotrimazole, or one of the similar ingredients may be effective in controlling the condition.

In the event that these over the counter treatments do not alleviate the problem, 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. The use of antibiotics may be required for the treatment of secondary bacterial infections. Additionally, any infected pets should be given treatment as well.

Prognosis for recovery

In most cases, ringworm responds to topical treatment within a matter of just four weeks. Oral antifungal medications may be required for resistant cases that don’t respond to topical treatments. Occasionally, there may be some complications as a part of ringworm. This may include various bacterial infections 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. Of course, not everyone will succumb to any of these complications, but it’s important for everyone to be aware of their existence. Of course, the most important thing to remember before any course of treatment is to call your physician if the ringworm does not respond to any self-administered course of treatment within a few days.

How can tinea corporis be prevented?

The best way to prevent ringworm is with adequate general hygiene. Another good way to avoid infection is to avoid contact with infected pets whenever it is possible. In order to prevent the spread of the infection, clothing and other household items, which may encounter others (combs, bathroom surfaces) should be sanitized and completely dried before anyone else uses it. Also, thoroughly wash hands after they have been in contact with any fungal infection, including that required to treat the infection. The use of proper hygiene and cleansing are the best ways to not only prevent the spread of ringworm, but to prevent the infection from developing in the first place. Keeping hands and surfaces free from germs will prevent not only tinea corporis, but also many other fungi and bacterial infections as well.

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