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Fungal Infections of the Skin

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Ringworm

Ringworm, also called tinea corporis, is not a worm, but a fungal infection of the skin. It can appear anywhere on the body and it looks like a circular, red, flat sore. It is often accompanied by scaly skin. The outer part of the sore can be raised while the skin in the middle appears normal. Ringworm can be unsightly, but it is usually not a serious condition.

Is Ringworm Contagious?

Ringworm can spread by direct contact with infected people or animals. It also may be spread on clothing or furniture. Heat and humidity may help to spread the infection.

What Are the Symptoms of Ringworm?

Ringworm appears as a red, circular, flat sore that is sometimes accompanied by scaly skin. There may be more than one patch of ringworm on the skin, and patches or red rings of rash may overlap. It is possible to have ringworm without having the common red ring of rash.

How Is Ringworm Diagnosed?

A doctor can diagnose ringworm based on the appearance of the rash or reported symptoms. He or she will ask about possible exposure to people or animals with ringworm. The doctor may take skin scrapings or samples from the infected area and look at them under a microscope to confirm the diagnosis.

How Is Ringworm Treated?

Treatment for ringworm usually consists of antifungal medications that are applied to the skin. Many ringworm infections respond well to over-the-counter creams, including: 

  • Lamisil
  • Micatin, Monistat-Derm
  • Lotrimin, Mycelex 

Prescription topical or oral drugs can be prescribed for more severe cases of ringworm.

Yeast Infections

Yeast infections of the skin are called cutaneous candidiasis and are caused by yeast-like fungi called candida. They occur when yeast on the skin grows more actively and causes a red, scaling, itchy rash on the skin. Yeast infections are not contagious. 

Yeast infections may affect nearly any skin surface on the body, but are most likely to occur in warm, moist, creased areas including the armpits and the groin. Candida infection is especially common among people who are obese or who have diabetes. People taking antibiotics are also at risk.

Candida can cause diaper rash in infants and can cause infections of the nail. Oral thrush is a form of candida infection that is found in the mouth. Candida also causes vaginal yeast infections.

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