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When you hear the word “ringworm,” your first thought is probably the circular rash that the infection is named for. But there’s more than just one specific type of ringworm — in fact, ringworm goes by many names for the different areas of the body it affects.

Ringworm is a fungal infection and not, as the name wrongly implies, a worm. It is highly contagious, and can be caught from infected animals, infected individuals, or infected clothing and towels. It is common to catch ringworm from a locker room, pool room, or gym, since ringworm thrives in moist and warm environments.

But, ringworm can be difficult to identify unless you know what you’re looking for; that is, unless you know the different types of ringworm that are out there.

In this post, we’ll discuss eight different kinds of ringworm, so that you can have a better grasp on what is and what is not the fungal infection.


 

 

1. Tinea Unguium: affecting the nails

 

When ringworm takes root under and around the fingernails or toenails, it is known as tinea unguium. Since ringworm is a type of fungus, this is more commonly called “nail fungus.” Tinea unguium typically causes the nails to thicken and become jagged and discolored. The nails become jagged because they are more brittle, which causes them to break and chip more easily.

Despite the visible symptoms of tinea unguium, it is almost always a purely cosmetic condition. However, in extreme cases, the infection may cause pain or even cause the nail to emit an unpleasant odor.

 

2. Tinea Pedis: affecting the foot — also known as Athlete’s Foot

 

Tinea pedis — or athlete’s foot — is one of the most common forms of ringworm. In fact, many people don’t even realize that athlete’s foot is actually ringworm. Athlete’s foot typically affects the webbing between the toes and the underside of the toes, most commonly at the point where the toes meet the foot.

Athlete’s foot is characterized by an itchy red rash, which is often accompanied by what looks like peeling skin. The affected area may also burn and become scaly. Athlete’s foot is incredibly common, particularly among — as the name suggests — athletes. It can easily be caught in shared showers or from gym mats.

 

3. Tinea Cruris: affecting the groin — also known as Jock Itch

 

Jock itch, officially known as tinea cruris, is also one of the most common forms of ringworm. Tinea cruris affects the groin area, including the inner thighs, the buttocks, and the genitals. Tinea cruris causes an itchy red rash to appear, often shaped into circles as is typical of ringworm.

To avoid developing jock itch, it’s best not to wear tight fitting clothing that may trap moisture in the groin area, particularly when working out. Wearing such clothing — including the standard uniforms for sports such as baseball and American football — is one of the common causes of jock itch.

 

4. Tinea Corporis: affecting the body

types of ringworm

Tinea corporis appears as red, circular rashes on the body, most often on the arms and the legs. This type of ringworm is the prototypical in appearance: the rash is red, raised, and circular, with a clear area in the center of the circle. As with other types of ringworm, it is often itchy and scaly to the touch.

Tinea corporis can be caused by contact with an infected individual, by wearing tight fitting clothing, or by excess sweating.

 

5. Tinea Manus: affecting the hand

 

Tinea manus is very similar to tinea pedis, except that it is typically more severe and more difficult to get rid of. As with tinea pedis, tinea manus can causes red rashes, skin peeling, and itchiness. The skin may also scale over.

Although tinea manus can be transmitted sexually, it can also be an allergic reaction to a fungal infection in another area of the body. If it is an allergic reaction, you will likely see similar allergic reactions on other parts of the body. Tinea manus may be a reaction to, for instance, tinea pedis.

 

6. Tinea Barbae: affecting the beard

 

Ringworm gets more frustrating and embarrassing the closer it gets to the head, since it becomes more visible and more difficult to conceal. Tinea barbae, which is ringworm affecting the mustache and beard area, typically only affects adult men. It is less common than other types of ringworm.

The infection presents similarly to the other versions: a red, raised, possibly circular rash, with itching and scaliness. Tinea barbae is typically caused by a form of ringworm that is more common among animals, and so it usually affects farmers who work with livestock. Because it affects the hair, tinea barbae makes the facial hairs very easy to pull out. It is best to avoid shaving if you have an active tinea barbae infection.

7. Tinea Faciei: affecting the face

 

Tinea faciei affects the skin on the face. In children and women, the infection can be anywhere on the face in order to qualify as tinea faciei. In men, it must not be in the facial hair area, or else it would be classified as tinea barbae.

As with other forms of ringworm, tinea faciei causes a red, raised rash, typically shaped into circles. It can be itchy or burning, and can become scaly.

8. Tinea Capitis: affecting the scalp

 

If the ringworm moves off the face and into the scalp area, it is then known as tinea capitis. Tinea capitis is most common among children, but it can affect individuals of any age. Tinea capitis gives rise to the same symptoms as other forms of ringworm: itchiness, rash, raised bumps, and scaly skin. However, tinea capitis also commonly causes bald spots.

Because of this, it’s best to see your doctor to ensure that treatment is swift and complete.

In fact, with any form of ringworm, it’s advisable to visit your doctor to ensure that your ringworm treatment plan is as comprehensive as possible. You could spend many months or even years battling ringworm on your own, or you could visit a medical professional and put yourself on the right track to healing quickly.

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