What is tinea?

Tinea, commonly referred to as ringworm, is a broad term used to describe a fungal infection of the skin (dermatophyte), whether affecting the body (tinea corporis), the scalp (tinea capitis), the groin (tinea cruris, or jock itch), the feet (tinea pedis, or athlete’s foot), or the nails (tinea unguium, or onychomycosis). While tinea is seen most frequently in children, it occurs in all age groups.

Although ringworm is the term most frequently encountered, the infecting agent is actually a fungus that thrives in warm, moist areas and is most likely to occur with constant moisture from perspiration or as a complication of minor injuries to your nails, scalp or skin. The name ringworm comes from a ring-like pattern frequently seen with tinea, the development of red patches on the skin that are often redder around the outside (forming the ring), with a more normal skin color in the center.

Tinea is contagious through skin-to-skin contact or through contact with contaminated items. It is highly treatable, usually clearing up within four weeks of starting treatment, and is not life threatening.

While tinea is a condition requiring prompt attention, it is not an emergency. At the same time, left untreated, it can become complicated by a more widespread bacterial infection. Seek prompt medical care if you are being treated for tinea but symptoms recur or persist after four weeks of care, if it spreads to your scalp or beard, or if you see signs of a bacterial infection developing, marked by symptoms such as swelling in the affected area, skin that is warm to the touch, an increase in redness, pus or discharge, fever, or streaks of red along the skin, particularly on a limb.


What are the symptoms of tinea?

Symptoms of tinea include raised, red, scaly patches with sharply defined edges that itch and blister, usually with oozing of fluid. Sometimes the skin near a tinea infection becomes lighter or darker, and if the scalp or beard is infected, you will usually see bald patches. Infected nails became thick, discolored, and sometimes crumbly.

Common symptoms of tinea corporis (skin... Read more about tineasymptoms


What causes tinea?

It is normal for a variety of bacteria and fungi to live on your body; in fact, many of these are quite useful and contribute to good health. However, some bacteria and fungi can multiply rapidly, leading to infection. Tinea results from a particular type of fungus multiplying too rapidly on the skin, scalp or nails. The fungi that can infect the skin in this way are known as dermatophytes. Pro... Read more about tineacauses


How is tinea treated?

Tinea responds well to treatment with over-the-counter antifungal products. These treatments come in powder, lotion or cream form. However, for resistant or persistent infections, prescription medications may be needed. If the scalp is infected, an oral medication will be needed. Finally, if the infection becomes aggravated and develops into a bacterial infection, Read more about tineatreatments

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Annual Review Date: Sep 20, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Infections and Contagious Diseases

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