Ringworm is a common fungalinfection that can cause a red or silvery ring-like rash on the skin.

Ringworm commonly affects arms and legs, but it can appear almost anywhere on the body.Despite its name, ringworm doesn't have anything to do with worms.

Other similar fungal infections can affect the scalp, feet, groin and nails.

These fungal infections, medically known as "tinea", are not serious and are usually easily treated. However,they arecontagious and easily spread.

Tinea fungal infections

There are different types of tinea fungal infection, based on the affected area of the body:

  • ringworm(tinea corporis) affecting the body
  • fungal nail infection (onychomycosis) affecting the nails
  • athlete's foot (tinea pedis) affecting the feet
  • jock itch (tinea cruris) affecting the groin
  • tinea capitis affecting the scalp

Ringworm usually looks like a round, red or silvery patch of skin that may be scaly, inflamed and itchy, but other fungal infections may present themselves slightly differently.

Symptoms of a fungal scalp infection include small patches of scaly scalp skin (which may be sore), patchy hair loss and itchiness.

Other types of fungal infections (including ringworm) are generally treated with antifungal cream from the pharmacy, and you don't need to see a doctor unless it persists. However, pharmacists often prefer children to see a GP to confirm a diagnosis.

Whats the cause?

Fungal spores are passed between people through direct skin contact and by sharing objects such as towels, hairbrushes and bedding. Athletes foot is commonly spread in gym and swimming pool changing rooms.

Pets, such as dogs and cats, can have ringworm, and you can catch it by stroking them.

You should avoid sharing towels, bedding or clothes with someone with a fungal infection.

If you think your pet has ringworm, take it to the vet. If your pet is treated quickly, youll be less likely to catch it.

If your child has a fungal infection, they can go to school, but you should inform their teacher. In addition to treatment, your child should maintain a good level of personal hygiene to prevent the infection spreading.


Content supplied by the NHS Website

Medically Reviewed by a doctor on 5 Jan 2017