THE ringworm It is an infection caused by fungi that affect the skin, nails and – even – the hair. These invisible enemies are present in every place we can imagine, from the ground to the animals. In fact, we can even say that on human skin there are several species of fungi that, under normal conditions, do not cause disease.
However, the problem arises when there is no longer a balance between the fungus and the human being. In these situations, there is an increase in the number of fungi and the scenario changes: the dreaded infections in the skin. Get to know more about this issue.
What are the different types of ringworm?
There are numerous types of superficial mycoses, the most common being pityriasis versicolor, ringworm, candidiasis and onychomycosis, which are mycoses that affect the nails.
- pityriasis versicolor: this is a chronic disease, which comes and goes cyclically, and affects more children and adolescents. The fungus that causes it belongs to the genus Malassezia.
- Ringworm: Ringworm is part of another set of superficial mycoses and is actually caused by numerous types of fungi. They can reach the feet, scalp and nails.
- Candidiasis: this infection is caused by fungi of the genus Candida. This type of fungus can cause superficial mycoses and deeper mycoses, which are more serious. It is quite common to affect the genital area of women, causing immense discomfort and itching.
What causes ringworm?
A ringworm is nothing more than an opportunistic infection. Basically, its cause can be any alteration that can reduce the host’s defenses.
We can say that mycosis can be caused by diabetes, by the prolonged use of oral antibiotics or by any other disease or treatment that affects the normal functioning of the immune system. In short, the defenses below leave the “door open” for a mycosis.
Usually, ringworm manifests itself as imperfect, reddish, scaly circles or rings that appear on the skin. These spots can be very itchy, becoming a real nuisance.
Mycosis can appear anywhere on the feet, but it is most noticeable between the toes, because it is a place that has many folds that create the perfect environment for the infection: dark, humid and warm.
As ringworm causes itching on the soles of the feet, chest and between the toes, there is a risk of this infection spreading to other parts of the body, such as the hands and face.
treatments for ringworm
The treatment of ringworm will depend on the type and severity of the problem. Topical or oral medications can be prescribed, with the most common active ingredients in antifungal creams being miconazole, clotrimazole, econazole and ketoconazole.
Usually, the antifungal cream it should be applied for 7 to 10 days. As it is an opportunistic infection, it is essential to identify the underlying factors, trying to correct them, in order to avoid new episodes.
Even if the symptoms of mycosis disappear, you should continue to apply the cream or lotion for another three days, to be sure that you have eliminated the source of the fungus.
Ringworm on the skin: types of infection
Mycosis on the skin is caused by fungi – microorganisms formed by a single cell called yeast. They can also be formed by groups of cells and, when this is the case, they are called molds.
Fungi need the incorporation of organic compounds from the external environment, to obtain the energy they need to carry out their functions – including infections.
pityriasis versicolor (had versicolor)
Pityriasis versicolor (or sea fungus) is a disease caused by a type of yeast called Malassezia furfur. This fungal infection most affects adults and young people after puberty.
Popularly known as “white cloth”, pityriasis versicolor is defined by small, whitish, scaly patches. They can be together or isolated and usually appear on the upper arms, trunk, neck and face.
Treatment can be done with topical or oral medications. However, this mycosis on the skin can recur.
Candidiasis (candida albicans)
Candidiasis is a very common fungus, which is usually found in the mouth, stomach, skin and vagina of women. Vaginal candida can cause a lot of itching in the intimate area and whitish secretions.
Candidiasis can affect babies’ mouths – so-called thrush. It is very simple to confuse the white spots of candidiasis with milk. Newborns can also develop candidiasis in the diaper area.
Athlete’s foot (tinea pedis)
It is caused by a fungus that forms in warm, moist areas of the skin, for example between your toes. THE athlete’s foot it causes a lot of itching, flaking, red spots on the skin, blisters and bad odor. Athlete’s foot infection can occur from walking barefoot on wet, contaminated floors, such as showers, swimming pools or public saunas.
Mycosis of the body (tinea corporis)
This fungus often attacks exposed parts of the body such as the arms, legs or face and causes redness in the shape of a circle. The infection can be spread through contact with someone who already has this ringworm on their skin.
This disease can become chronic in patients with immunosuppression or who have been treated for a long time with certain types of medication, for example cortisone.
Groin mycosis (tinea cruris)
This type of fungal infection is more common in young people and develops because the scrotum and thigh are in close contact with each other, thus creating the conditions for fungus to develop. Groin ringworm can also affect the genital area in women who wear particularly tight clothing.
This mycosis can cause redness and itching in the groin area and genital area. Groin ringworm is also contagious and can be transmitted in the same way.
Nail mycosis, or onychomycosis, is an infection caused by fungi that “feed” on keratin – the substance that forms nails.
Toenails are the most infected by fungus, as the environment inside shoes – humid, dark and warm – favors its development. In addition, the slower growth of toenails complicates the elimination of ringworm. As a rule, what ends up happening is nail-to-nail transmission.
But there are other possible causes – which vary from person to person – namely:
- advanced age;
- use of immunosuppressive drugs;
- immunological difficulties;
- family history of onychomycosis;
- blood circulation problems in the lower limbs, among others.
The most common symptoms relate, above all, to physical changes in the nails themselves. Depending on the fungus and the severity of the infection, nail mycoses can even cause a lot of pain (in cases considered more serious).
There are other symptoms of nail fungus, namely:
- Detachment of the free edge: the nail detaches from its bed, usually starting at the corners until it becomes hollow. There may be material build up under the nail – this is the most frequent sign that something is wrong with the nail.
- Dismantling and deformities: the nail becomes weak, brittle and breaks into the previous fractions, becoming deformed. The nail appears to be the thickness of a sheet of paper.
- Thickening: nails increase in thickness, becoming hard and thick. This form may be accompanied by pain.
The drugs used for the treatment of mycosis in the nails can be used topically, in the form of creams, solutions or antifungal varnishes. When more than one nail is infected, it is necessary to treat it with drugs, in the form of pills.