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Ringworm Symptoms in Humans


Tinea capitis ringworm on the scalp

Tinea capitis ringworm on the scalp

The common name for this condition is “ringworm.” This name is a cause of confusion, because it is not caused by a worm, but by a number of fungi species. The medical term for ringworm symptoms is “dermatophytosis” and the different forms of ringworms in humans are called “Tinea.” Ringworm occurs only on the outside and lives in the dead outer skin layers, although some strains can infect the lower “living” skin. They live off a protein called keratin, which makes up your skin, hair and nails.


The Tineas are named in Latin depending on which part on your body is infected, not the species of the specific fungal organism. The Tineas in, or rather on, humans, are from head to toe:


  • Tinea capitis affects the scalp.
  • Tinea faciei affects the face also known as face fungus.
  • Tinea barbae affects facial hair.
  • Tinea corporis affects the arms, legs, and body.
  • Tinea manuum affects the back of the hands and the palms.
  • Tinea unguium affects the fingernails and toenails (toenail fungus).
  • Tinea cruris affects the area around the groin, and better known as jock itch.
  • Tinea pedis affects the feet, better known as athlete’s foot.
Not everyone infected by the ringworm fungus will show signs of an infection, but can still spread this contagious disease. The symptoms and appearance of a fungal skin infection depend on the type of fungus causing it and the part of your body affected. Athlete’s foot for example is a combination of fungi and bacteria. Some people are infected by ringworm for years without developing any symptoms. They do however infect others, as ringworm is a very contagious skin infection.

The most common symptoms of a ringworm infection are:

ringworm symptoms in beard or barbers ringworm tinea barbae

Tinea Barbae - ringworm of facial hair

Tinea capitis - ringworm of the scalp.

Ringworm of the scalp usually starts as a small pimple that becomes a larger scaly patch. This causes the hair to become brittle, resulting in hair loss in patches and inflammation of the skin where the hair grew. Together with this his infection may cause severe itching and hair loss on the patches. If left untreated, these patches may develop pus-filled sores.


Tinea faciei - ringworm of the face.

Round itchy pink patches of skin, without raised and distinct borders. They may occur in groups and give the impression of a rash.


Tinea barbae - ringworm of facial hair.

Round hairless patches with skin crusting and inflammation. May look like bad razor bumps that do not heal. Shaving is not advised.


Tinea corporis - ringworm of the arms, legs, and body.

Round red patches are among the common ringworm symptoms. These patches may or may not have a distinct red border. The edges of these patches may be raised and scaly and the inner area may not have body hair although regaining the normal skin colour. Patches that merge can look like a nasty rash.


ringworm on fingernail

Fingernail with ringworm

Tinea manuum – ringworm of the back of the hands and the palms.

Here the infection occurs usually between the fingers and on the palms. It usually affects only one hand. The skin thickens, flakes, cracks and peels. It feels burning and itchy.


Tinea unguium – ringworm of the fingernails and toenails.

This is known as nail or toenail fungus. This is normally not accompanied by itching or pain, although the skin around the nail may become sore and irritated. The nails become discolored, which can vary from white, green or yellow to black, or a whitish thickening of the nails, which become rough, crusty and brittle. The nails may get detached and fall off from their nail bed.

Toenail with ringworm symptoms

Toenail with ringworm symptoms


Tinea cruris – ringworm of the groin, or jock itch.

In babies this is diaper rash, in youth and adults it is known as jock itch because it occurs in sportspeople and is common among young men. It is characterized by red-brown patches, not necessarily ring-shaped, that can cause intense itching with blisters or pustules around the edges, which may ooze pus. Ringworm on the inner thighs can become scaly and flaky.


Jock itch occurs around the groin, but usually not on the genitals. There penile thrush, which is a yeast infection, is a problem.


Tinea pedis - ringworm of the feet, or athlete’s foot.

Usually this condition is a rash the area spaces between the toes and scaling patterns around your sole and on the side of the foot. It may also occur on the heels.


Ringworm symptoms in this case are scaly or flaky, dry, cracking, red itchy and burning patches. The flaking and peeling skin may have crusts and oozing from blisters. The cracked skin may expose the inner raw tissue and cause redness from bacterial inflammation.


Whatever type of ringworm you have, it is curable. Here is a review of ringworm treatments readily available



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