Ringworm occurs around the world, it is common in North, Central and South America; in Africa, Southern Europe and South East Asia-especially India. It is however uncommon in Northern Europe. The infection is encouraged by warm and humid climate which causes a lot of sweating like what obtains in Lagos, Nigeria and also by poor personal hygiene.
Ringworm affects several parts of the body but all those parts have one thing in common, there are moist (wet) except off course the nails, scalp and the skin on the trunk.
Ringworm has different names depending on the part of the body it affects; the scalp (Tinea capitis), bearded area (Tinea barbae), face, trunk, lower and upper limbs (Tinea corporis), groins/upper thighs (Tinea cruris), hands (Tinea mannum), nails (Tinea unguim) and in-between the toes ( Tinea pedis also called Athlete’s foot)
1. What is ringworm?
Ringworm is an infection that affects the dead part of the skin, the hair and nails; our skin has two main parts; the dead outer part (without blood and nerves) and the inner part which is alive (with blood and nerves),
It could appear as a reddish rash that expands to a scaly red patch with a ring appearance, when it appears the hair, it breaks leading to hair loss; on the scalp there could be several ringed patches. When the feet are affected, it is located between the toes appearing whitish and very itchy.
If the nails are affected, they are discolored, thickened and then tend to crumble.
2. What Causes ringworm?
Ringworm is caused by a mould-like germ called fungus. There are many types of fungi, the group that causes ringworm is called Trichophyton; there are many species of this fungus but Trichophyton rubrum is on the commonest.
3. How does ringworm Spread?
Ringworm spreads through contact with infected person or animal; it can also spread through the use of infected articles such as combs, brushes, couches, caps/hats, and sheets.
Spread can also occur through floors of swimming pools/bath and air in hospitals/clinics that have the fungus.
4. When Do You Suspect You May Have ringworm?
Suspect ringworm when you see ringed scaly itchy patches on the scalp, body, upper thighs, and groins.
Suspect ringworm when you notice whitish itchy patch in-between your toes or a disfiguring of your nails.
See your doctor if you have any of the above.
5. What Can Put You at Risk?.
Risk is increased by age, sex, environment, socioeconomic status and personal hygiene.
Scalp ringworm is common in school children between the ages of 3 and 9 years with male children more affected. Tinea cruris which affects the groins and upper thighs is commoner in males because of tight under wears, so also is scalp ringworm; ringworm of the beard affects men only.
Those who live in over-crowded houses and in hot and wet environment are more at risk; ringworm is commoner among poor and uneducated people.
Finally, good personal hygiene reduces the risk of ringworm infection.
6. Any complications?
Complications include skin infections by bacteria which can become pussy, the nails may become deformed.
Several treatments exist for ringworm infection ranging from ointment application and the use of oral drugs. Depending on the part affected, treatment could last for months.