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Ringworm (Body)


Disease: Ringworm (Body) Ringworm (Body)
Category: Dermatological diseases
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Disease Definition:

Ringworm is a fungal infection that develops on the top layer of the skin; ringworm of the body is one of its several forms. This condition is characterized by a red, itchy circular rash with healthy-looking skin in the middle. The name of ringworm has nothing to do with an actual worm under the skin; however, it comes from the characteristic ring that can appear.

Ringworm of the body is also called tinea corporis and is closely related to other fungal infections with similar names, such as:

Ringworm of the scalp (tinea capitis):
involving red, itchy patches on the scalp and leaving bald patches, children are most commonly affected by this form.  
Athlete's foot (tinea pedis):
Moist areas between the toes and sometimes on the foot itself can be affected by this form.
Jock itch (tinea cruris):
Inner upper thighs, buttocks and genitals are affected by this form.

Work Group:

Prepared by: Scientific Section

Symptoms, Causes


The signs and symptoms of ringworm include:


  • A round, flat patch of itchy skin
  • Slightly raised expanding rings of red, scaly skin on the trunk or face
  • A circular rash on the skin that's red and inflamed around the edge and healthy looking in the middle.

Red rings of rash or patches may overlap and more than one patch of ringworm may appear on the skin. Without developing the common red ring of ringworm, a person can have tinea infection.

When having a rash on the skin that doesn't improve within two weeks, a doctor should be seen. A prescription medication may be needed. Additionally, a doctor should be immediately seen when fever, drainage, excessive redness or swelling occurs.


Microorganisms that become parasites on the body are the cause of fungal infections, such as ringworm. On the cells in the outer layer of the skin is where these mold-like fungi (dermatophytes) live.

As ringworm is contagious, it could spread in the following ways:

Soil to Human:
Contact with infected soil can spread ringworm to humans in rare cases. Prolonged contact with highly infected soil is the only way through which the infection is likely to occur.
Object to Human:
contact with objects or surfaces that an infected person or animal has recently touched or rubbed against, such as bedding, clothing, towels and linens, brushes, or combs, can also spread ringworm.  
Animal to Human:
By Touching an animal with ringworm; or petting or grooming dogs or cats a person can contract the infection. Ringworm can also spread from horses, pigs, ferrets, rabbits and goats.
Human to Human:
Direct, skin-to-skin contact with an infected person can spread ringworm.

The risk of ringworm of the body is higher if one:


  • Shares towels, clothing or bedding with someone who has a fungal infection
  • Has a weakened immune system
  • Has close contact with an infected person or animal
  • Wears restricted or tight clothing
  • Sweats excessively
  • Participates in contact sports, such as rugby, football or wrestling
  • Lives in damp, humid or crowded conditions



Only in some rare cases does a fungal infection spread below the surface of the skin to cause serious illness. However, getting rid of the infection may be difficult for people with weakened immune systems, such as those with HIV/AIDS.


A person may need a prescription-strength topical medication or an oral medication if ringworm of the body covers a large area, is severe or doesn't respond to over-the-counter medicine. The options that are available are many and they include:



Abnormal liver functioning, rash and gastrointestinal upset are some of the side effects of oral medications. The absorption of the drugs taken for ringworm may be hindered in case the patient takes other medications, such as antacid therapies for ulcer disease or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). The effectiveness of warfarin, an anticoagulant drug that decreases the clotting ability of the blood, may be altered by oral medications for ringworm.


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