What Is Tinea Manuum?

Medically Reviewed by Stephanie S. Gardner, MD on September 17, 2023
4 min read

Tinea is commonly known as ringworm, a fungal infection that can be found anywhere on the body. It gets its name because of the circular rash it causes. The name of the infection is determined by where it’s at on the body. In the case of tinea manuum, the word manuum means the infection is on the hands.

Also known “dermatophytosis," tinea can appear almost anywhere and, as stated, its location determines its name. Common occurrences of ringworm have more familiar names. 

For example, ringworm on the feet is referred to as “athlete’s foot.” Ringworm of the groin, inner thighs, or buttocks is called “ jock itch.” Ringworm of the hands, tinea manuum, is sometimes referred to as “athlete’s hand”. 

Ringworm on your body, including your hands, typically include the following symptoms: 

  • A ring-shaped, scaly rash
  • Itchiness
  • Clear, scaly, or bumpy center of the ring rash
  • Slightly raised rings
  • A round patch of itchy skin

It may be hard to detect ringworm on your hands. The symptoms can mimic eczema, dermatitis, psoriasis, or dryness. 

If tinea manuum goes untreated, symptoms can worsen. Your skin can crack and blister, which can lead to bacterial infections. 

Around 40 types of fungus can cause ringworm. They thrive in warm, humid environments. You’re more at risk for getting ringworm if you live in tropical areas that experience humid summers or spend time in humid spaces like locker rooms or indoor pools. 

Along with a humid environment, you may be more at risk for getting ringworm if you: 

  • Sweat heavily
  • Participate in contact sports
  • Live in close contact with other people
  • Share hygiene products with others without disinfecting
  • Are obese
  • Are diabetic

The primary way you can get ringworm is through contact with something carrying the fungus, including: 

  • Skin-to-skin contact with an infected person
  • Petting an animal that has ringworm, including your pets
  • Touching soil infected with ringworm
  • Using an object infected with ringworm

You can even spread ringworm to other parts of your body. One of the common causes of tinea manuum is when you have tinea pedis on your foot and you scratch it with your bare hand. 

It's rare for ringworm to spread below the skin’s surface. If you have a severely weakened immune system, it can be harder to be clear of infection. 

Your doctor can perform a simple physical exam. However, since tinea manuum can be harder to determine, your doctor may take skin scrapings to look at under a microscope. 

Depending on the type of infection, your doctor may recommend a culture. This is when they examine a skin sample to determine the type of fungus that’s growing. 

Common infections like athlete’s foot and jock itch are easier to treat than scalp or nail infections. Typically, athlete’s hand can be treated with over-the-counter topical antifungal treatments. These include ointments and creams. 

Severe infections may not go away with OTC treatments. If this occurs, your doctor may recommend prescription oral antifungal medications. 

Treatment may provide instant relief. But it’s important to continue treatment as labeled or recommended by your doctor. This will more thoroughly get rid of the infection and prevent it from coming back. 

You can prevent getting tinea manuum and spreading it to others by minding your daily habits. Here are a few things you can do.

Don’t share with others. To prevent infecting other people, avoid sharing personal items. If you need to, disinfect the items if you can. 

Treat every infection. If you have ringworm in multiple places, proper treatment is important. You need to treat every area at the same time. Improper treatment can lead to a secondary infection of ringworm. 

Wash your hands frequently. Tinea manuum can spread to other areas if not treated and managed. Washing your hands frequently will keep the fungus from spreading. 

Dress light. Avoid layers and thick clothing in humid weather. Wear loose cotton clothes to promote an environment that won’t support fungus. Similarly, avoid sweating too much. If that’s not a possibility, regular showering may be beneficial. 

Keep shared areas clean. Shared areas such as gyms, schools, and locker rooms can easily spread ringworm fungus. For athletes, keeping your gear clean and showering after wearing it will keep fungus growth to a minimum. 

‌Fully dry after bathing. Before throwing on your clothes for the day, make sure your skin is fully dried. Towel dry, air dry, and use a hairdryer on cool to make sure your skin is dried before putting clothes on.