What is Ringworm? Causes, Symptoms and Treatment
Ringworm is a superficial skin disease. It is a yeast infection, caused by microscopic fungi called dermatophytes. These fungi thrive on dead tissue such as skin cells, nails, and hair. 80% of ringworm cases develop in children and are visible on the scalp. There is also a form of ringworm that grows on the rest of the body, even if there is nobody’s hair or hair.
Ringworm is not a dangerous disease, but it is very irritating and can cause severe hair loss, especially unsightly.
Causes of Ringworm
It is a fungus that is at the origin of this mycosis. Several kinds of fungi can cause ringworm. They develop directly on the skin.
Who is affected? What are the risk factors?
The people most affected by fungal ringworm are children aged 3 to 12, mainly because they live in communities (daycares, schools) and the exchange of objects, personnel, hats, scarves, etc. allows rapid spread of the fungi concerned.
However, the disease can also affect adults and adolescents. Other groups of people at risk are:
- Those who live in close quarters (squats, shelters for the homeless, refugee camps, etc.)
- Those who are in frequent contact with animals that may be contaminated by the fungus (cats, dogs, horses, etc.)
Ringworm is a contagious disease that is transmitted by indirect contact (contaminated objects) or by direct contact with infected people or animals.
The main Symptoms
The vast majority of ringworm infections are visible on the scalp. The signs are:
- Small rounded red spots on the head
- The spots grow and turn white or gray, with scaly (peeling skin)
- The hair on the spots breaks very short (2-3 mm)
- Intense itching on the plaques
- Sometimes: pustules and small blisters, pus discharge
A simple physical examination can identify ringworm. This is done using an instrument called Woods’ light, which when directed at the head, fluoresces hair contaminated with ringworm.
A sample of the attacked tissues then makes it possible to confirm the diagnosis and to highlight the type of fungus causing the disease.
Possible risks of complications
The majority of ringworm cases are not very serious and can be treated. However, some fungi are more dangerous than others and although it is very rare they can cause permanent hair loss, unsightly scarring.
The fungi that cause ringworm are very resistant, and treatment usually needs to be taken for several weeks. It is made up of :
- An antifungal agent, in the form of shampoo, powder, or lotion
- An antifungal agent in tablet form
In addition, if the contamination was made through a domestic animal (dog, cat), it is also necessary to bring it to the veterinarian for treatment.
Prevention of ringworm
Ringworm can be prevented by the following measures:
- Avoid sharing personal items (combs, brushes, hats, towels, etc.)
- Avoid contact with stray animals
- If you notice that your child has lesions that could resemble ringworm, take him out of school until the start of treatment, notify the administration of his school.
- Treat pets