Ringworm is a common affection of the skin, scalp or nails. In spite of its name, the disease is actually caused by infection with fungal organisms. The fungal organisms responsible for causing ringworm are called dermatophytes and they are very widespread in nature. Ringworm is very contagious and it can be easily acquired from people or animals that are infected with dermatophytes. The fungal organisms can also be contracted from contaminated objects.
Arthrospores (fungal spores) can infest items such as bed linens, towels, clothes, combs or hats and it is important to avoid using other people’s personal objects in order to prevent the occurrence of ringworm. Most animals, especially cats and dogs, are carriers for dermatophytes and it is important to avoid physical contact with animals that show signs of infection. Although they carry the infectious fungal elements, some animals don’t develop ringworm and therefore appear healthy. Although proper hygiene can minimize the risks of developing ringworm, it is best to stay away from stray dogs and cats.
Although it can also occur in adults, ringworm is very common in children and elderly people. People with weak immune system are also very susceptible to developing the disease. There are multiple forms of ringworm and the disease can affect different areas on the body: feet, crotch, back, hands, face, neck, scalp and nails. Ringworm of the foot is the most common form of the disease. The infection usually occurs between the toes and circular reddish lesions appear on the affected skin regions. Ringworm of the scalp is very common in children and it can be very difficult to overcome. Its generated symptoms are: scaly scalp, itch, crust and pus-filled nodules. People with ringworm of the scalp can also suffer from temporary hair loss. Ringworm of the nails involves deterioration, thickening and discoloration of the nails. This form of ringworm is also difficult to treat.
The most effective ringworm medications contain fungicidal materials. Fungicidal ringworm medications are aimed at killing the fungal organisms and their spores. Fungicidal ringworm medications are far better than most fungistats, which usually just stop the fungi from reproducing, instead of eradicating the infection. Strong fungicidal ringworm medications are: Lamisil, Griseofulvin and Tinactin. Most of these antifungal medications are both under the form of oral pills or creams, gels and lotions. While most ringworm medications for external use don’t require a medical prescription, oral antifungal drugs can’t be purchased without a recommendation from your dermatologist.
For people who have ringworm of the scalp, ketoconazole-containing shampoo (Nizoral) can be very effective in overcoming the fungal infection. Under the form of creams, ringworm medications with ketoconazole should be applied once a day until the disease is completely cured. People with ringworm of the nails require oral ringworm medications such as Lamisil or Griseofulvin.
Most fungicidal ringworm medications can overcome the infection in around 14 days. Although you may experience an amelioration of the symptoms within the first few days, it is very important not to interrupt the treatment until your doctor tells you to. Follow the treatment with ringworm medications for as long as your doctor indicates. In order to ensure that the infection is fully overcome, the antifungal treatment should be continued for another 10 days after the symptoms have disappeared. If the treatment with ringworm medications is prematurely stopped, the infection can quickly reoccur.