Tinea corporis, also known as ringworm of the body, is a common fungal skin infection. This infection commonly presents with characteristic ring-shaped lesions that can affect your abdomen, limbs, and neck.
Tinea can also affect the feet (tinea pedis), scalp (tinea capitis), the groin region (tinea cruris), and the nails (tinea unguium). One type of tinea infection, namely tinea versicolor, can cause patches of discolored spots to appear on your skin.
The treatment for a tinea infection will depend on the part of the body that is affected. Let’s explore the common symptoms of a tinea corporis infection and how to treat and prevent it.
What Is Tinea Corporis (Ringworm Of The Body)?
Tinea corporis or ringworm of the body is a skin infection that is extremely common worldwide. It is a superficial skin infection, which does not affect your muscles or internal connective tissue.
Tinea corporis is explicitly characterized by lesions that affect the neck, arms, trunk, and legs. Ringworm can affect other parts of your body, such as your feet, scalp, groin area, nails, hands, and face. You may notice your doctor calling these infections by different names, depending on the site of infection.
What Causes Tinea Corporis?
Tinea corporis is also referred to as ringworm of the body. However, the name ‘ringworm’ may be misleading. Worms are not the cause of the infection. Instead, dermatophytes are the causative agent, and these are harmful fungi that can grow on the skin and other body surfaces.
These fungi can attach to your skin and cause an infection. Trichophyton rubrum is the species that most commonly causes a tinea corporis infection. However, other species of fungi can cause this infection as well.
You may have gotten into contact with a contaminated object or surface, such as bed sheets, towels, or clothing. Tinea corporis can also spread from one person to another.
Sometimes, you may have a ringworm infection affecting other parts of your body, such as your feet. And this infection may have transferred to somewhere else on your body, including your trunk, chest, arms, or legs, leading to tinea corporis.
What are the symptoms of tinea corporis?
Some symptoms of tinea corporis or ringworm of the body are as follows:-
- Red, itchy rashes seen on the neck, abdomen, or limbs.
- Circular ring-shaped rash/lesions.
- The middle of the lesion is lighter in color and forms a central clearing (hypopigmentation).
- The border of the lesion is usually raised and scaly.
- The border may contain pus-filled vesicles.
- Over time, multiple lesions can form. These lesions may merge to create a pattern consisting of several rings or half-rings.
Your doctor or dermatologist will examine the lesions and rashes and ask you a few questions to determine the most likely cause of your skin condition. If they are less certain of the cause, they may take skin scrapings of the affected area for examination under a microscope.
What increases your risk of getting tinea corporis?
Some people are more likely to get tinea corporis, while some others are less likely to. These risk factors may make you more susceptible to a tinea corporis infection:-
- Taking chemotherapy drugs, steroids, or other immunosuppressive drugs
- Lymphoma (cancer of the lymphatic system)
- Conditions that weaken your immune system
- Advanced age
- Excessive sweating
- Frequently wearing occlusive or tight-fitting clothes
- Staying with someone who has a tinea infection
- Pets at home or often coming into contact with animals
- Performing recreational activities (shared showers or locker rooms)
- Living in a country with hot, humid weather
Is Tinea Corporis Contagious? How does it spread?
Tinea corporis can spread easily as it is highly contagious. There are three main ways that tinea corporis can spread. Firstly, it can spread via contact with someone who has a tinea or ringworm infection. Sharing personal items such as towels and clothes may also cause the disease to spread from one person to another.
Secondly, tinea corporis can also spread through contact with certain surfaces. That’s because the fungi can live on certain surfaces, especially in moist and damp environments. Hence, sharing beddings or blankets with an infected person puts you at risk of getting it, too.
Lastly, as adorable as your pets are, infected animals can also pass the infection to their owners or to other people who come into contact with them. Animals such as dogs, cats, cows, horses, and pigs can spread the infection if they have ringworm disease.
Tinea Corporis Treatment: What Is The Best Treatment For Tinea Corporis?
Non-prescription (OTC) topical antifungals can treat tinea corporis effectively. These come in creams, ointments, sprays, powders, or lotions that you will apply directly to the affected site. The typical regimen is a once or twice daily application, usually for around 1-3 weeks. Some topical antifungals that treat tinea corporis are clotrimazole, ketoconazole, miconazole, and terbinafine.
In severe cases, your doctor may prescribe you oral antifungals, which you will take by mouth.
Ensure you follow the instructions given by your pharmacist or doctor tightly. Skipping days of treatment or stopping the medication prematurely may lead to reinfection.
How Do You Prevent Tinea Corporis From Spreading?
Because tinea corporis can spread very quickly and easily, you can take several precautionary measures to prevent catching or spreading the infection:-
- Wear loose-fitting, breathable clothing and underwear.
- Change your clothes and underwear every day.
- Avoid sharing personal belongings such as clothes and towels.
- Keep your skin dry and clean always.
- Try to bathe regularly and cleanse your skin with warm water and soap. After bathing, ensure that you dry your entire body completely before putting on your clothes
- Keep your fingernails short and clean.
- Shower immediately after carrying out vigorous activities or exercise.
If you suspect your pet has ringworm, protect its health by taking it to the vet and ensuring it gets proper treatment. Examine any other pets in your household and thoroughly clean your pet’s beddings and equipment.
When Should I See The Doctor?
If your symptoms worsen or don’t improve within a week of topical antifungal treatment, visit your doctor. The infection could be caused by something else, or you may need oral antifungals to clear the infection.
A tinea corporis infection that is widespread and affects an extensive area of your body should also warrant a visit to the doctor. Say you are immunocompromised or have diabetes. In this case, it is best if you visit your doctor if you suspect you have a tinea infection.
Bottomline: Managing Tinea Corporis
Tinea corporis is a curable fungal infection. Topical antifungals can treat mild cases, but more severe and extensive tinea infections may require oral antifungals, which you can only attain with a doctor’s prescription.
Disclaimer: This article is only a guide. It does not substitute the advice given by your own healthcare professional. Before making any health-related decision, consult your healthcare professional.
- Yee, G., & Al Aboud, A. M. (2021). Tinea Corporis. In StatPearls. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31335080/
- DermNet NZ. (2020). Tinea Corporis. Retrieved from https://dermnetnz.org/topics/tinea-corporis/
- MIMS. (2021). Tinea Corporis, Cruris & Pedis. Retrieved from https://specialty.mims.com/tinea%20corporis,%20cruris%20-and-%20pedis/treatment