Skin Fungal Infections: What are the Forms and Causes of Ringworm?

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The Causes of Ringworm

Ringworm is a very common skin infection to be diagnosed with. Ringworm, also know as tinea, is not caused by worms, as commonly believed. So what causes ringworm? Ringworm is caused by skin fungal infections that can affects all areas of the skin. The symptoms of ringworm vary in appearance because there are seven different forms of this infection.

The causes of ringworm are the same for all seven forms. The skin fungal infections are caused by fungus know as dermatophytes. Dermatophytes are microscopic organisms that survive off dead skin tissue. This fungus thrives in warm and moist environments. The symptoms of ringworm often appear on the skin as round spots and a ring shaped rash.

Ringworm of the Foot

Ringworm of the foot _(Tinea Pedis), a_ffects the areas of the foot, mainly in the webs of the toes. This form of ringworm usually occurs between the forth and fifth toe. The skin on the soles of the feet can begin to sting. The feet can become itchy, red, and have a burning sensation. There’s normally scaling and inflammation at the infection site. This type of ringworm is commonly known as athlete’s foot.

Ringworm of the Beard

A common type of ringworm is ringworm of the beard, (Tinea Barbae). This type of infection affects the bearded area of the face, such as the cheeks and neck. It appears as swollen and crusted spots. The hair near the infection can begin to break off. This type of ringworm used to be known as Barber’s Itch.

Ringworm of the Hand

Ringworm of the hand, (Tinea Manus), normally only appears on one hand. The palms of the hands and in between the fingers are often affected. The skin begins to flake and the skin can thicken. This type of ringworm has irregular edges with crusted spots.

Ringworm of the Face

Another form of ringworm is ringworm of the face, (Tinea Facili). This affects the areas of the face that aren’t in the bearded area, such as the eye lids. The rash that this infection causes is rarely ring shaped and has indistinct edges. There are red, scaly patches where the infection occurs.

Ringworm of the Groin

Tinea Cruris is ringworm of the groin, commonly known as jock itch. The appearance of jock itch can resemble yeast infections, psoriasis, and intertrigo. The rash appears reddish-brown in color. It spreads down either one or two legs from the fold of the groin and down the thighs. This type of fungal infection’s caused from sweating and hot or moist environments. Friction burn can cause jock itch as well.

Ringworm of the Scalp

Ringworm of the scalp or Tinea Capitis, mainly affects children and adolescence. For this reason, it can quickly spread through schools. Once the skin is infected, patching or scaly spots begin to appear on the scalp. The hair can even begin to fall out.

Ringworm of the Nails

Tinea Unguium is the fungal infection known as ringworm of the nails. It’s also called onychomycosis. When the finger nails are infected they can begin to look white and opaque. They often become thick and brittle. If the toe nails become infected they turn yellow in color and also become thick and brittle. Wearing artificial nails increases the likelihood of becoming infected with this form of ringworm. It can be spread through use of emery boards.

Recognizing Ringworm

Because there are numerous different types of ringworm it can be difficult to recognize it. has pictures of all seven forms of ringworm. This infection is highly contagious because it can be spread by objects, a person, animals, and soil. It’s most common to find the fungus that’s the causes of ringworm ringworm in hot and humid areas. It thrives in skin folds, like those of the groin and toes. A skin test of the infected area may be needed to properly diagnose ringworm. It can easily be treated using anti-fungal creams or oral medications.


“Ringworm Pictures Slideshow: A Collection of Photos” By Brunilda Nazario, MD October 2, 2008

“Ringworm (Tinea)”, 2008