Ringworm – symptoms, causes, complications and risk factors

ring worm symptoms causes

The ringworm of the body is a fungal infection which is developing on the top layer of your skin. This condition is characterized by a red and circular rash with clearer skin in the middle. Also it can be itch. This condition got its name because of the appearance and there is no worms like many people think it is involved in it. This means that the ringworm is not caused by worm. Ringworm is also known as tinea corporis. The ringworm of the body is closely related to ringworm of the scalp (tinea capitis), jock itch (tinea cruris) and athlete’s foot (tinea pedis). Ringworm infection can affect animals not just people. This condition often spreads by direct contact (skin – to –skin) contact with an infected person or animal. The mild level of ringworm responds to antifungal medications which you apply to your skin. [1] But if you have more – severe infections, then you need to take antifungal pills for several weeks. In the most cases people can buy medicine from their local pharmacy which can help the ringworm to go away. You should not share bed sheets, combs and towels with someone who has ringworm. You should not scratch the ringworm rash because it can spread to other parts of your body. If you have noticed that your pet has patches or missing fur, then you should take it to the vet to see its condition.


Ringworm symptoms

In the most cases ringworms begin as a flat scaly area on the skin which can be itchy and red. This patch is developing a slightly raised border which expands outward and it is forming a roughly circular ring. The contours of this ring can be quite irregular which resembles the wavy line of a worm or snake. The interior of this ring can be clear, scaly or it can be marked with a scattering of red bumps. There are some cases when in some people several rings develop at the same time and they can overlap. Here are some symptoms which can help you to recognize the ringworm:

  • Patches that develop blisters or begin to ooze
  • Red, itchy, scaly or raised patches
  • Patches which have edges that are raised and defined
  • Patches that may be redder on the outside edges or resemble a ring

You need to visit your doctor if you have a rash on your skin which is not improving in a period of 2 weeks. You should talk with your doctor or pharmacist before you buy some kind of medicine. They will look at your rash and they will recommend you the best antifungal medicine or home remedy. You should regularly check your skin if you have been in contact with an infected animal or person.

Ringworm Symptoms and Causes

Ringworm causes

Causes: This condition is a contagious fungal infection that is caused by mold – like parasites which live on the cells of the outer layer of our skin. This condition can spread in following ways:

  • Soil to human: There are some rare cases when ringworm can be spread to humans by contact with infected soil. The infection mostly will happen only from prolonged contact with highly infected soil. [2]
  • Object to human: It is known fact that the ringworm can be spread by contact with surfaces or objects that an infected person or animal has recently rubbed against or touched it, such as brushes, combs, bedding and linens, towels and clothing.
  • Animal to human: It is known that someone can contract ringworm by touching an animal that has ringworm. Ringworms can spread while grooming or petting cats or dogs. Also this is a very common condition in cows. [3]
  • Human to human: In the most cases, ringworm spreads by direct, skin – to – skin contact with the infected person.

Risk factors: You are having an increased risk of getting ringworm on your body if you:

  • Have a weakened immune system [4]
  • Wear tight or restrictive clothing
  • Participate in sports that feature skin – to – skin contact, such as wrestling [5]
  • Share clothing, bedding or towels with someone who has a fungal infection
  • Have close contact with an infected person or animal [3]
  • Live in a warm climate [6]

Complications: There are rare cases when the fungal infection is spreading below the surface of the skin to cause serious illness. People who have weak immune systems, such as people who have HIV/AIDS can find it difficult to rid of the ringworm.


[1] Harvard Health Publishing. Ringworm (tinea). 2019. Retrieved from www.health.harvard.edu/a_to_z/ringworm-tinea-a-to-z

[2] Brevik EC, Burgess LC. The influence of soils on human health. Nature Education Knowledge. 2014;5(12):1.

[3] Kligman AM. Pathophysiology of ringworm infections in animals with skin cycles. The Journal of Investigative Dermatology. 1956;171-85.

[4] Technical University of Munich (TUM). Important element of immune defense against fungal infections discovered. Science Daily. 2016.

[5] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Ringworm risk & prevention. Retrieved from www.cdc.gov/fungal/diseases/ringworm/risk-prevention.html

[6] Johns Hopkins Medicine. Tinea infections (ringworm). Retrieved from www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/tinea-infections-ringworm


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