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Ringworm of the body
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Ringworm of the body

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INFECTIOUS DISEASE

Fungal

Ringworm of the body is one of several forms of ringworm, a fungal infection that develops on the top layer of your skin. Ringworm on the body is usually found on the face or neck, but can be anywhere on the body. It's characterized by an itchy, red circle of rash with healthy looking skin in the middle.

Also called tinea corporis, ringworm of the body is closely related to other skin conditions with similar names. Tinea is a type of fungus, and corporis is the Latin word for "body." Other common tinea infections include:

  • Athlete's foot (tinea pedis). This form affects the moist areas between your toes and sometimes on your foot itself.
  • Jock itch (tinea cruris). This form affects your genitals, inner thighs and buttocks.
  • Ringworm of the scalp (tinea capitis). This form is most common in children and involves red, itchy patches on the scalp, leaving bald patches.

Tinea corporis affects your arms, legs, trunk and face. Ringworm gets its name from the characteristic ring that can appear, but it has nothing to do with a worm under your skin.

Although unsightly, ringworm usually isn't serious, except potentially for people with weak immune systems. Treatment usually consists of antifungal medications that you apply to your skin.

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Treatment

For a mild case of ringworm, your doctor may advise you to apply an over-the-counter antifungal ointment, lotion, powder or spray. Most infections respond well to these topical agents, which include:

  • Miconazole (Micatin, Monistat-Derm)

  • Clotrimazole (Lotrimin, Mycelex)

  • Terbinafine (Lamisil)

If ringworm is severe or doesn't respond to over-the-counter medicine, you may need a prescription topical or oral medication. These include:

Topical

  • Econazole (Spectazole)

  • Oxiconazole (Oxistat)

Oral

  • Itraconazole (Sporanox)

  • Fluconazole (Diflucan)

  • Terbinafine (Lamisil)

Side effects from oral medications include gastrointestinal upset, rash and abnormal liver functioning. Taking other medications, such as antacid therapies for ulcer disease or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), may interfere with the absorption of these drugs. Oral medications for ringworm may alter the effectiveness of warfarin, an anticoagulant drug that decreases the clotting ability of your blood.

Doctors prescribe griseofulvin (Fulvicin, Grisactin), another oral medication, less often since the introduction of newer medicines. Griseofulvin is effective, but can take longer to clear up the infection. Its most common side effect is headache, and it can cause discomfort in your digestive tract, sensitivity to light, rashes or a drop in your white blood cell count. The most common use of griseofulvin is for people who are allergic to other antifungal medications, or for people who have other medical conditions that may be negatively affected, such as liver disease.

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This information is provided for general medical education purposes only and is not meant to substitute for the independent medical judgment of a physician relative to diagnostic and treatment options of a specific patient's medical condition.
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Last Modified : 03/15/08 02:05 AM