Ringworm is superficial fungal infection of the skin. It is also known as tinea or dermatophytosis. This condition has become very common over the last decade. Tinea infection forms almost 30-40% of our OPD clients during summers and rainy weather. Multiple family members tend to affected simultaneously as it is a contagious condition.
It can affect any area of the body, and depending on that, it is referred to by different names. For example, fungal infection of the groin area is tinea cruris or jock itch, on the face it is tinea facie, on hands and feet it is called as tinea manuum and tinea pedis respectively.
Ringworm infection occurs because of hot and humid conditions. The risk factors for developing fungal infection are summers and rainy seasons, excessive sweating, tight fitted clothes, poor personal hygiene, sharing clothes, obesity, and immune compromised condition like diabetes.
Superficial fungal infection starts as a small red rash associated with itching. It increases in size over next few days to form a ring shaped rash, hence called ringworm. The rash has active borders and central clearing. It is associated with severe itching. The rash usually first appears in the body folds area, most commonly groin, underarms, or below the breasts. Without treatment, the rash rapidly spreads to increase in size and also involve other body areas.
The diagnosis of superficial fungal infection is clinical. Sometimes, with atypical presentation, KOH mount of scrapings from the active borders of the rash, may be done to confirm presence of fungal elements.
Because of the change in environment with global warming, rise in the
number of cases with extensive disease, inappropriate and prolong use of
over-the-counter medicines (usually containing high potency steroids),
development of drug resistance, and frequent recurrences, the treatment of
superficial fungal infection has become a challenge. Tinea infection, no
matter how limited or widespread it is, needs to be treated with a
combination of oral and topical antifungals. The most commonly used antifungal drugs belong to the category of azoles and allylamine. Azoles are
majorly fungistatic and include medicines like fluconazole, itraconazole,
luliconazole, ketoconazole. Allylamines are fungicidal in nature, and include
terbinafine. It is usually a combination of fungistatic and fungicidal medicine
that is used. The duration of treatment can last from 3 weeks to 3 months
Besides the medicines, it is very important for any person suffering from fungal infection to follow a set of general precautions to heal the condition faster and prevent recurrences. These are:
Whenever you see any rash on your body, kindly consult a dermatologist
ASAP. Refrain from using creams like Panderm, Fourderm, Quadriderm,
Lobate GM, Betnovate N, etc. as all these creams contain strong steroids
which are absolutely contra-indicated in superficial cutaneous fungal
infections. Application of steroidal creams might give you temporary relief
from redness and itching, but it also simultaneously decreases the immunity
of that area. The result is that the fungal infection comes back faster,
stronger and more wide spread!
So, it is highly recommended not to experiment yourself and better rely on the expert advice of a dermatologist for proper management of your ringworm infection.