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Each week we focus on a different condition and give you the fast facts. This time, we're looking at ringworm.

What is ringworm?

Ringworm is a fungal infection in your skin which causes red and scaly patches to form. Despite the name, it's not caused by worms but can be picked up from animals like cats and dogs and is highly contagious.

Ringworm can be caught on the body or on the scalp and the two types are treated differently, with scalp ringworm being slightly more serious - but still easily treatable. Body ringworm is most likely to occur in areas that are not covered by clothes such as your face and arms.

What does it look like?

Here is a picture of a ringworm rash in an adult.

 

What are the symptoms of ringworm?

The area of infected skin usually starts reasonably small and spreads outwards with the outer edge being redder and scalier than the centre - which is where the name 'ring'worm comes from.

You're likely to have some irritation from the rash - with it being itchy and inflamed but it can vary depending on the specific fungus that's caused it.

It can sometimes be hard to distinguish from other skin infections such as psoriasis, but your GP should know the difference.

Who does ringworm affect?

Adults can contract ringworm but it is more common in children because they have more person-to-person contact with each other and this is the main way the fungal infection is spread.

How is ringworm treated?

Ringworm is treated with antifungal cream that can be bought over the counter in a pharmacy. Your pharmacist should be able to recognise a ringwrom infection but if there's any doubt, always consult your doctor before buying it. The cream is applied to the infected, and surrounding area of skin. How it long it takes to heal can vary but your doctor should be able to give you a good idea.

Will I infect people around me?

No, it should be fine to go to school or work but be very careful in the house. Avoid sharing towels, because this is a common way of spreading the infection. Scratching will also make you more likely to spread the rash to other areas of your body so tie up those hands when you get the urge!

More help and advice

- More in-depth ringworm information
- A dermatologist gives treatment advice
- Your story: 'Cream cleared up my ringworm fast'

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