Nothing is more uncomfortable than a stubborn, itchy fungal skin infection. Ringworm, jock itch, and athlete’s foot are collectively known as tinea. These infections are caused by fungi called dermatophytes that live on our skin, hair, and nails. This fungus thrives in warm moist areas like locker-room showers.
The name and the symptoms of these fungal skin infections differ depending on where they appear on the body. The source of the fungus can be a pet or another person.
Ringworm, (tinea capitis) isn’t a worm at all, but a ring-like rash that appears on the scalp. According to the Mayo Clinic, this highly contagious fungal infection is seen usually in children and severe cases can lead to permanent scarring and hair loss.
Usually, the ringworm presents as scaly or itchy with bald patches on the scalp. Treatment includes medicine, given orally to kill the fungi, plus medicated shampoo.
An active athlete in your family may experience jock itch (tinea cruris.) Jock itch appears on the skin in the crotch or thigh area as an itchy, red, usually ring-like rash. Mayo Clinic reports that jock itch is usually not serious and can be cleared up with antifungal medications.
Athlete’s foot (tinea pedis) is also contagious and can be picked up from the locker room or shower floor. This infection starts in moist areas between toes or other parts of the foot. Athlete’s foot can cause itching, burning, and stinging. Like jock itch, athlete’s foot can also be successfully treated with over-the-counter antifungal creams or sprays.
According to Family Doctor Website, the key to preventing tinea infections is to keep skin clean and dry. Instruct children to change socks and underwear, daily. Limit the growth of fungi on the feet, by taking off shoes and exposing them to the air when at home.
When using a locker room or public shower, remember to carefully dry feet between the toes. Wearing flip-flops as shower shoes is recommended when walking in public areas like showers or pool decks.
Throw away worn exercise shoes and teach children not to borrow or lend shoes. Kids should not share towels, clothing or combs and brushes. The Family Doctor Website also recommends that a vet check pets for hair loss in case they are the cause of the fungal infection.
Mayo Clinic. Ringworm. Web. 22, Nov. 2011.
Mayo Clinic. Jock Itch. Web. 22, Nov. 2011.
Mayo Clinic. Athletes Foot. Web. 22, Nov. 2011.
Family Doctor. Tinea Infections. Web. 22, Nov. 2011
Reviewed November 24, 2011
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith