What is tinea corporis or “ring worm” ?

Tinea corporis or “ring worm” is a superficial fungal infection of the skin. When this is found on the body, it is sometimes referred to as “ring worm” because it often has a circular pattern on the skin. In the groin region it is sometimes referred to as “jock’s itch” and on the feet as “athlete’s foot”.

Who gets tinea corporis or “ring worm” ?

Children and adults who are exposed to fungal elements from their environment, usually directly (e.g. skin to skin contact), can pick it up and have tinea corporis or “ring worm”. For e.g. wrestler’s can get it from contact with each other, in which case it is referred to as tinea gladiatorum.

How do I know if I have it ?

It is often a pink scaly, circular plaque with central clearing. The scale is usually at the edge of the circle. Common areas for it include the groin folds (tinea cruri) and the feet (tinea pedis). Still, it can be found on the buttock, back, face (especially when transmission is from a pet), and elsewhere on the skin. It is best diagnosed by a dermatologist who may differentiate it from similar appearing rashes.

How can I treat tinea corporis or “ring worm”?

Tinea corporis or “ring worm”can be treated with topical antifungals. Still, not all topical antifungals work on this type of fungus (dermatophyte). Some only work on yeast forms of fungus. Additionally, for extensive involvement, oral antifungal therapy for a few weeks may be needed.

How can I prevent tinea corporis or “ring worm” ?

To prevent this kind of infection, it is important to address the source of the fungus. This is often the feet. Therefore, if one does have tinea pedis or athletes foot, it should be treated as it may spread to the rest of the body. Additionally, if one has pets, care must be taken when coming in close contact with them, as they may transmit this as well. Also, keeping the skin healthy by avoiding irritating skin products and moisturizing frequently will help prevent cracks and breaks in skin that allow for easier entry of fungus.

When should I see a dermatologist about it ?

You can see a dermatologist for your tinea corporis or “ring worm” at any time, to confirm the diagnosis, treat it early, and to get tips on avoiding future infections. It is particularly important to come in for this if it is not improving or resolving, or if you continue to get repeated bouts of it. If this is the case, it may not be tinea corporis or “ring worm” after all or may need a different therapeutic plan.

Additional Resource:
American Academy of Dermatology